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26 August, 2021

Range delays to add to motorists’ frustrations

FRUSTRATED Tablelanders already annoyed by an ongoing single lane closure to the Barron River bridge at Kuranda face the prospect of even more disruptions in coming days and months as separate works slated for the troublesome Kuranda Range now get underway.

By Michael Warren

Motorists can expect longer delays on the Kuranda Range.

FRUSTRATED Tablelanders already annoyed by an ongoing single lane closure to the Barron River bridge at Kuranda face the prospect of even more disruptions in coming days and months as separate works slated for the troublesome Kuranda Range now get underway. 

State Government’s touting of its flashy new technology upgrade that, when finished, will eventually provide “variable speed limit signs and real time travel information” is of small consolation to long suffering local road users that simply want both a functioning Barron bridge and reliable road way between Cairns and the Tablelands.

 Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) confirmed the initial works to the Range will involve the installation of conduits to provide power to proposed Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) with motorists to encounter single lane closures and reduced speed limits between 6pm-6am while the works are carried out. 

TMR said a key outcome of the works is the ITS treatments will enable them, through the newly laid technology, to rapidly detect and manage incidents throughout the range. The ITS systems are expected to be installed between Smithfield and Kuranda’s Rainforestation Nature Park. Meanwhile, as the Labor Government mooted the benefits the improved digital enhancements will provide, Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch expressed his views on both the Barron River bridge and the Kuranda Range. 

“It’s now time to explore and invest in alternative routes to connect Cairns with the Tablelands, such as the Bridle Track proposal,” Mr Entsch said during a recent Parliamentary address.

 “This time the Queensland Government can’t blame anyone else for their own incompetence and negligence. This is on them. “The Queensland Government need to cough up the cash to replace the bridge and reassure an already nervous community that the current bridge won’t collapse into the Barron River. 

“This brings me to the Kuranda Range, a major route in my electorate. 

“I understand the newly formed Kuranda Range bypass committee has already held a few public forums on this important issue. “I’ve always been a big supporter of finding a solution to the issue regarding the Kuranda Range. 

“I have, on numerous occasions, approached the Queensland Government on this issue. 

“I’ve written on several occasions to the Queensland Transport and Main Roads minister, Mark Bailey, urging him to consider solutions for the Kuranda Range. 

“In fact, I have asked him to include the Kuranda Range as a road of strategic importance given its vital role in connecting the Tablelands with Cairns. 

“To date these approaches have fallen on deaf ears.” Lastly Kuranda Range bypass advocates Bob Katter MP and Shane Knuth MP have called on Minister for Roads Mark Bailey to fast track the release of a $1.6M Queensland Government report commissioned to investigate capacity, safety and efficiency improvements of transport routes between Cairns and the Northern Tablelands, including the Bridle Track. 

Both believe such a move would assist in the Federal Government becoming involved in any serious move to construct a new inland highway between Cairns and Mareeba. 

“I believe fast tracking the completion of the study is of vital importance to ensure the State Government can take advantage of the Australian Government’s $4.9 billion Roads of Strategic Importance (ROSI) initiative,” Mr Knuth said. 

“I understand the Federal Transport Minister would seriously consider any approach by the Queensland State Government requesting funding for the alternative route. 

“A new inland highway will save Tablelands and Cairns motorists 30 minutes in travel time when compared to the existing route, and it would allow greater production in agriculture and mining.”


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