General News

12 August, 2022

Transport facilities not a State priority

A NEW unhitching pad on the Kennedy Highway between Mareeba and Kuranda and a new truck rest stop area near Biboohra are not a funding priority for the State Government but Member for Cook Cynthia Lui has reassured the community she will continue to push for the new facilities.

By Robyn Holmes

Transport facilities not a State priority
Transport facilities not a State priority

For years, growers and the transport industry have been pushing for a decoupling pad to be established on the Kennedy Highway close to Kuranda to reduce the unnecessary travel time for trucks between Mareeba and Cairns. 

With B-doubles banned from using the Kuranda Range Road, trucks must travel to Mareeba with one trailer, unhitch it, then go back to Cairns to collect the second trailer. 

FNQ Growers president Mr Moro has repeatedly called for the facility to be established, citing safety concerns due to the increasing number of traffic movements on the highway, and rising costs for freight companies. 

With 9500 vehicles using the range currently, and a growth rate of 3 per cent per annum forecast, the number of vehicles using the road in 10 years’ time could be as many as 20,000 a day.

The government’s Northern Tablelands to Cairns Access report listed the decoupling pad as one of the actions it recommends but rated it as a “short-medium” term action which, according to the document, could be done sometime in the next 14 years. 

“The unhitching pad should be done as a matter of urgency – it should have been done 10 years ago,” Mr Moro said. 

He said rising costs were a major concern for farmers and freight companies. 

“The less truck drivers have to go back and forward the less they spend on fuel obviously,” Mr Moro said.

“At the end of the day fuel rates go up, whether there is an unhitching pad or not, it has an impact on freight rates, so if you can shorten travel times in any way or form, it takes pressure off freight rates rising.” 

The Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) conducted a $480,000 study in 2019 to develop a Heavy Vehicle Management Strategy for the Atherton Tablelands which identified potential sites for a heavy vehicle rest area and heavy vehicle decoupling facility along the Kennedy Highway. 

However, it is currently not considered a priority and has been allocated no funding. 

“Construction will be prioritised against other important infrastructure needs across the State for future funding and inclusion in the works programs,” a DTMR spokesperson said. 

DTMR has also identified a potential location for a new heavy vehicle rest area near Biboohra which would enable permanent closure of the existing truck pad near McGrath Road, however, it advised Mareeba Shire Council “that no funding presently exists for the project”. 

Ms Lui said she had was previously unaware of the DTMR study being conducted but was pleased because it demonstrated that it was an important facility.

“It was very positive to hear DTMR had done a study because it allows me to push to get the money for the project” she said.

“I have spoken to DTMR and will also be following up with Minister Mark Bailey, and having the study done allows me to put an argument forward to get funding.” 

Ms Lui said she had also been made aware of issues surrounding the truck rest area near McGrath Road, with residents complaining about the noise and other impacts on their amenity. 

“It is something that’s on the agenda and it is important we keep advocating for a new truck rest area so that the liveability for locals is maintained,” she said.


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