General News

5 March, 2024

New traffic lights for Mareeba

MAREEBA is set to get its next set of traffic signals, with Main Roads confirming it will begin installing the lights at the T-junction where the Kennedy Highway meets Byrnes Street by May.

TRAFFIC LIGHT: Traffic lights will be installed at the intersection of the Kennedy Highway and Byrnes Street to cope with 12,000 vehicle movements a day, of which 900 are heavy vehicles.
TRAFFIC LIGHT: Traffic lights will be installed at the intersection of the Kennedy Highway and Byrnes Street to cope with 12,000 vehicle movements a day, of which 900 are heavy vehicles.

The intersection caters to around 12,000 vehicle movements a day, of which approximately 900 are trucks.

Crash data of that intersection shows that only four crashes have occurred in the past 10 years, two of which required hospitalisation of the people involved.

But with traffic on Byrnes Street increasing, it is getting more difficult for heavy vehicles to turn right from the Kennedy Highway to enter the roadway, increasing the risk to safety of road users.

The project will also include a new left turn slip lane from Byrnes Street and retain the current left turn lane slip lane from the Kennedy Highway (coming from Cairns) to the Kennedy Highway (going to Atherton). 

Both of the left turn lanes will include the addition of signalised pedestrian crossings. Motorists will be able to use the lanes at any time with care.

The $15 million project is jointly funded on a 50:50 basis by the Australian and Queensland Governments as part of the 2023-2025 Road Safety Program.

A spokesperson from the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) said the project was expected to commence in May and be completed mid-2025.

Byrnes Street got its first set of traffic lights in 2020 when TMR replaced the roundabout with signals at the busy intersection with Rankin Street.

Mareeba’s Deputy Mayor Cr Kevin Davies, who is the chair of the local Traffic Advisory Committee, said discussions had been ongoing for some time about how traffic enters Mareeba from the east and south, with TMR initially proposing to reconfigure the Connection Road/Kennedy Highway intersection and make it a T-junction.

But the local committee advised that the bigger issue was how trucks, in particular, were entering Mareeba via the Connection Road and into Byrnes Street – made even more congested by traffic wanting to turn into Costin Street. Often trucks can be straddled across multiple lanes as they attempt to cross.

“We questioned why they would concentrate on the Mareeba Connection Road and change that into a T-intersection when we would rather tackle the traffic coming through the connection road that come out near the Jackaroo Motel,” he said.

“Often trucks also want to then turn into Costin Street which means sometimes the truck and trailer  has to pull out and sit across both lanes as drivers attempt to get across.”

Cr Davies said he wanted the pressure to be taken off the connection road entry into Byrnes Street and hoped installing traffic lights at the Kennedy Highway/Byrnes St intersection would encourage heavy vehicles to take that route instead.

“We also want to make sure that whatever Main Roads do at that intersection is compatible with what will be needed for the proposed Mareeba Bypass,” he said.

He acknowledged that while locals did not often like traffic lights, they had a role to play.

“Because it’s Main Roads, we don’t really get a say – we can have our opinion and put that forward to them but whether they follow or not, it’s up to them,” he said.

“I can see the benefit of putting the lights there to improve the safety at that intersection and if putting traffic lights there means the bypass is a step closer, then that’s a good thing.”

Cr Davies said the advisory committee was unaware of the plan by TMR to install signalised pedestrian crossings on both of the slip lanes (heading to Atherton and heading out of Mareeba to Cairns) at the intersection.

He was surprised given the lack of pedestrians in that area, and given the number of school children having to cross the highway to get to McIver Road which leads to St Stephens Catholic College, he would rather Main Roads look at how this could be made safer.

“I have suggested that perhaps the large culverts under the road near there could be used as a sort of underpass for the kids, as is done near Smithfield, although of course, during rainfall, they would become unusable,” Cr Davies said.

“I do think we should be looking at what sort of solution could be found to make that area safer for kids.”


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