15 January, 2022
War of words over range road link
COLD water has been thrown on Member for Kennedy Bob Katter’s push for the “Bridle track” as an alternative transport corridor from the Tablelands to Cairns, with Member for Barron River Craig Crawford describing it as “an uncooked $4 billion election rant to try to drum up votes”.
Mr Crawford hit back at claims by Mr Katter about the viability of a new Kuranda bridge as opposed to building a new highway to the Tablelands through Redlynch, dubbed the Bridle Track.
Mr Katter says the State Government’s plan to build a new bridge over the Barron River at Kuranda is a waste of money after learning that engineering firm Arup will complete a $2.1 million planning project to identify the best option for a safe, efficient crossing over the river.
“The only reason they’re going against the Bridle Track (Kuranda Bypass) highway is because someone else thought it up and not their Government,” Mr Katter said.
“He’s locking us into a commute from Mareeba to Cairns that takes more than an hour, and is on a dangerous, winding tourist road. Whereas the proposed Bridle Track Highway will be a super-fast, heavy transport route which is needed to transport agricultural and mining produce.
“Labor want to spend $500 million on a bridge when we could have a new highway for just over $1 billion. Once the Bridle Track is built, the current Kuranda Road should be made a dedicated tourist road.”
But Mr Crawford rejected Mr Katter’s remarks, attributing them as campaigning for this year’s Federal election.
“You can tell there’s a federal election looming when Bob rolls this out again,’’ Mr Crawford said.
“It is an uncooked idea which is all about creating noise to attract votes, just like Bob does every election. Next week he will dust off the separate NQ state agenda I’m sure.”
Mr Crawford will this month release the findings of a detailed $1.6 million study by the Department of Transport and Main Roads into the best way to improve access between Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands.
The project considers all routes between Cairns and the Northern Tablelands, including Palmerston Highway, Gillies Range Road, Kennedy Highway, Mossman-Mt Molloy Road and other alternatives.
“Bob’s bridle track involves the demolition of a number of houses and streets in Redlynch and with planning, approvals, design, and corridor acquisition would take up to 15 years to build,” Mr Crawford said.
“His $1 billion figure won’t get far, in fact I think he’s about $3 billion short. And meanwhile the Kuranda bridge would be closed because we did nothing, all the time knowing the bridge was ageing and getting closer to end of life.”
Mr Crawford said the Queensland Government would continue to work on future plans for the Kuranda bridge including pedestrian and cyclist access.
“Shortly we will release the results of the range crossing study which will give stakeholders a fully informed position on the four access highways, their vehicle loads, accident rates, and closure statistics.
“It involves short, medium and long-term strategies including any other locations for future work.
“Decisions and policies around significant infrastructure of this nature needs to be developed properly, business cases built, and costs properly calculated so that taxpayers get value for their money.”