Community & Business

1 June, 2024

Sealing works for key road freight route

ANOTHER nearly 9km of Ootann Road will be sealed by the end of next year, with local councils receiving a total of $5.9 million from the Federal Government that will see the last remaining 4.1km sealed in the Tablelands Regional Council section of the road.

Sealing works for key road freight route - feature photo

Ootann Road, which has been identified as a Road of Strategic Importance, is a continuous 90.5km route and acts as a north-south link between the Burke Developmental Road and the Kennedy Highway, servicing a number of cattle grazing and production areas. 

It is also part of the shortest route from the Chillagoe area to Hughenden.

But the road is mostly unsealed and narrow and renowned for its unreliability, causing road trains lengthy detours across winding mountainous routes, adding over 250km per trip.

The money from the Federal Government for both the Mareeba Shire and TRC sections of the road will be topped up by funding from both councils and the State Government to make a total $7.4m package.

TRC last week awarded a $3.1 million contract to Gunther Civil Pty Ltd which will now set about delivering a 9.4m wide sealed road capable of an 80km/h speed limit.

That will complete TRC’s section of the route.

Mareeba Shire Council will also start sealing 4.3km of the road that runs through its boundaries, but after the job is completed, there will still be 67.4km unsealed.

The council estimates that it will cost a further $100 million to seal the remaining stretch.

In a report to TRC last week, officers advised that because Mareeba Shire Council was also widening and sealing its next portion of the road which connects to the TRC boundary, the design of works had taken this into account so that it provided a continuous link between the road sections.

The report indicates the council had been allocated funding for the project some time ago but this had been “placed on hold due to the Independent Strategic Review”.

“It has since been confirmed to remain and TRC have received confirmation to proceed with awarding the tender from Department of Infrastructure,” the report stated.

According to the department, the Ootann Road upgrades by both councils “will extend existing sealed sections of the road and raise its standard to a 9-metre-wide two-lane seal, enabling better heavy vehicle access and delivering a strategic link between Northern Australian industry and southern markets.

“This project will progress the upgrade of the road to provide a more efficient, resilient and safer freight system, facilitate economic expansion in the region, and significantly reduce travel time,” it says.

Mareeba Shire crews will undertake the widening and sealing work of its section, starting later this year and expecting to finish it by the end of the 2025, weather permitting.


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