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21 March, 2021

Barron River Bridge could be replaced.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has confirmed that they are launching an investigation into either replacing or rehabilitating the Barron River Bridge on the Kennedy Highway at Kuranda.

By Phil Brandel

TMR have announced that the Barron River Bridge will be kept to one lane for the foreseeable future.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has confirmed that they are launching an investigation into either replacing or rehabilitating the Barron River Bridge on the Kennedy Highway at Kuranda.

In the meantime, urgent repair works are being carried out after faults were discovered in steel welds. TMR announced that traffic control would remain in place for at least another six months on the 60-year old bridge, meaning that the bridge will remain at one lane for the foreseeable future. 

While the maintenance is underway, the Queensland Government will start a $2.1 million investigation into long-term solutions for either replacing or rehabilitating the ageing bridge. 

Transport and Main Roads North Queensland Regional Director Sanjay Ram said the investigation will assess the best long-term solution to providing a safe, reliable crossing of the Barron River. "We apologise for the ongoing inconvenience of those delays around the bridge, but the safety of all road users is the absolute priority that guides our decisions on these matters,” Mr Ram said. 

Mr Ram said current traffic arrangements ensured the bridge was safe for all vehicles under 50.5 tonnes. "In late October 2020, routine inspections identified fatigue in some steel elements," he said. "These issues have been caused by the accumulated impacts of heavy vehicles crossing the river over many years.  

“Heavy vehicles are now much heavier than they were in the early 1960s when the bridge was designed and built.  

"Wear and tear like we’ve picked up is not unusual in steel bridges of this age and can be managed. “Our bridge inspectors are continuing bridge investigations to make repairs.  

"They’re checking 1000 individual welds and repairing them as they go."  

Mr Ram said to date, about 300 welds have been inspected, with around half of those identified for repair. "The average delay through the site is about two minutes with the traffic management in place," he said.

“We’d prefer we didn’t have to reduce traffic over the bridge but that’s not an option based on the work we need to complete, so we thank the community and the motorists who drive through this area for their patience as we continue these repairs.” 

In response to the announcement that the Barron River Bridge will be down to one lane for a further six months, Kennedy MP, Bob Katter said he is determined to see plans drawn up for the Ron Reddicliffe “Bridle Track” highway, which is a planned new road between Mareeba and Cairns.

 “I am determined, and I will be very, very angry if I do not get $2 million to draw up the plans for the Ron Reddicliffe “Bridle Track” highway,” Mr Katter said.

 “Spending $700 million on replacing the Barron River Bridge is extraordinarily stupid, especially when you can build a direct, fast track highway taking you from Cairns CBD to Mareeba in 19 minutes (instead of an hour).

“The problem is the major parties are based in Brisbane and put Brisbane first. We are 2000 kilometres away in North Queensland and we have had the most appalling representation in state and federal parliament (Cook and Leichhardt) – they have been utter nobodies.

 “We now have excellent leadership in the Atherton and Mareeba councils, and in Shane Knuth, and we are now living in a very different paradigm with very aggressive representation.”

 



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