Community & Business

5 June, 2024

Alternate road to Cairns is a must

SIGNIFICANT damage done to the Kuranda Range Road during the wet season has shown how vulnerable it is, according to Member for Barron River Craig Crawford who says the government must now set about identifying an alternate corridor as a matter of urgency to get the process started.

Damage on the range from Cyclone Jasper is still to be fixed.
Damage on the range from Cyclone Jasper is still to be fixed.

Mr Crawford is the first local politician to depart from the recommendation made in the Department of Transport and Main Roads study released in 2021 which advised an alternate road from the Northern Tablelands to the coast was not need until 2051.

He says the substantial damage the road suffered in extreme rainfall events in December and January now put a different light on the situation and gave credence to the need for an alternate route.

“I think it does and in that access study in 2021, they did state there was a need to identify an additional route across that range,” Mr Crawford said.

“(the damage) shows us how vulnerable we are having a single point of crossing being the Kuranda Range – when we see that range go out with accidents, mud slides, we can see the vulnerability of not having something as a back-up.

“The other thing is the rock geology on that range is problematic – it’s a real crumbling sort of rock as well, so from an engineering perspective, it’s a nightmare. That’s why we see those slippages, landslides and rock falls.

“So, yes, there’s no doubt about it – the bridge we’ve got there now definitely highlights the vulnerability that we have in having that single point of crossing.

“And certainly the other range crossings are either too far to the south or too far to the north.

“I think we should keep that road (Kuranda Range) as a tourist road and find another way to get commuters and heavy transport over the hill.

“Certainly any of the hydrologists and experts will probably tell you that we’re going to see more of those extreme rain events so it definitely highlights the urgency to do something.”

He said DTMR had to determine whether to pursue an alternate route or widen the current range road but there were “a lot of stakeholders to work with so that could take a quite a bit of time”.

“Those conversations need to happen because that is probably a 20-year project,” he said.


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