Community & Business

17 March, 2022

RDA supports range road widening

A REGIONAL development organisation says widening the Kuranda Range Road is the most cost-effective medium-term solution to improve access to the Atherton Tablelands.

Regional Development Australia Tropical North chair David Kempton said the organisation had reviewed four reports produced over the past 20 years and new ideas raised in the media following the $1.6 million Cairns to Northern Tablelands Access Strategy, which found no alternative route was needed for 30 years. 

The review had considered the traffic projections, freight and environmental issues raised in previous reports to seek a cost-effective solution. 

“Widening the existing Kuranda Range Road to B-double standard and creating more overtaking lanes is possible within the current footprint with minimal disturbance to the Wet Tropics area,” he said. 

“An estimate for a preferred option from 2014 was $3.1 billion with much of that cost from inflation and debt servicing, when compared to estimates in 2001 of $300 million and $700 million in 2006. 

“The minimum build time was 10 years and involved construction of a four-lane highway paralleling or overlaying the existing route but consisting of 40 per cent bridges. 

“Approval for the 2014 Kuranda upgrade from the Wet Tropics was obtained and remains in place until December 2030.” 

Mr Kempton said finding a solution to the Kuranda Range had been the topic of much debate recently and over the past two decades. 

“The main constraints facing any proposal to widen or relocate the highway are the high construction cost and the environmental off sets including Wet Tropics approval,” he said. 

“These are major factors impacting any route, however, each proposed route has its own issues.” 

He said the Quaid Road option would add 31km to the trip and would require a significant upgrade, realignment and straightening as well as channelling heavy traffic at Wangetti, meaning the Cook Highway would also require an upgrade. 

“The Reddicliffe Highway proposal requires 25km of new construction with grades of up to seven per cent and severe residential dislocation, while Member for Kennedy Bob Katter’s Bridle path requires construction of 23km of roadway and tunnel which needs to avoid Copperlode Dam and would impact residential areas south of Cairns city,” Mr Kempton said. 

The Tableland Access Options Report can be found on the Regional Development Australia Tropical North website,


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