She used to plan the perfect weddings, but in a career change that highlights how easily certain skills can be transferred, Mernda Rail Extension Project worker Kerrie Griffin now strives to coordinate traffic to perfection on a busy worksite.
Safely directing colossal 30-tonne dump trucks between sites one minute, casually fist-bumping enthusiastic school kids the next.
It’s all in a day’s work for traffic controller Kerrie Griffin, who’s vibrant personality and work ethic has quickly led her to become a fan favourite with the public and colleagues alike on the Mernda Rail Extension Project.
Students and staff at Marymede Catholic College will be in prime position to catch the train when services become operational later this year, as works progress to build about eight kilometres of new rail line and three new stations north of South Morang.
In the meantime, the previously clear land east of the school has been transformed into a highly active worksite, which is where Kerrie’s role of managing traffic at site access points becomes particularly crucial during peak pick-up and drop-off times.
“In between 8:00 to 9:00am and 3:00 to 4:00pm, that’s when our big peaks are,” Kerrie said, estimating that up to 150 students make use of a pedestrian footpath at Williamsons Road on school days.
“Working with the kids … my job feels so much more important because you want to get them safe home to their parents, and we want to go home safely as well.”
First entering the wedding and events scene as a waiter at the age of 14, Kerrie worked her way up through a number of roles before eventually becoming an events planner, where she assisted excited brides-to-be to map out the details of their perfect day.
Then in 2014, she sought out an opportunity through a brother-in-law and made the leap into construction, which has led her to work across the majority of Level Crossing Removal Authority projects starting from Burke Road in Glen Iris.
As a young female in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Kerrie is encouraging of others to follow her lead and revealed she also takes inspiration from a younger female colleague, who drives the large “moxy” trucks.
“Because of her and seeing all of that, now I want to expand myself … I want to be able to do something else,” Kerrie said.
“Traffic is a good way in – it’s the best point to learn in construction.”
Kerrie’s influence seems to be rubbing off onto the next generation of workers, with students often asking questions about her role and the project.
Having received a range of positive feedback, both from safety advisers and the wider community, the Craigieburn local says she is eager to see the Mernda project through to the finish.
“At the end of the day, when you see things start and it comes from nothing, then you see it all built up, you’re like ‘yeah, I was part of that’,” Kerrie said.
“It’s a milestone for the area - it’s really good to be a part of something like this.”
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