Community & Business

17 January, 2024

Works underway to open highway

A TEMPORARY single-lane section is currently being constructed on the Palmerston Highway to allow heavy vehicles to get freight into and out of the region.

One of the badly damaged sections of road on the Palmerston Highway.
One of the badly damaged sections of road on the Palmerston Highway.

The highway suffered significant damage with major pavement slips occurring, and according to the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR), it will “unfortunately mean unavoidable long-term closures of this road to enable significant repairs”.

“We understand the significant impact this is having on heavy vehicle operators and the agricultural industry, so in addition to providing temporary permits for an alternative route we are fast-tracking work to restore access on Palmerston Highway,” a TMR spokesperson said.

The single-lane section will be constructed between Crawfords Lookout and Junction Road and is expected to be open in mid-February.

But that is not good enough, says Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter and State Member for Hill Shane Knuth.

While they both “cautiously welcomed” news of works commencing on the flood-ravaged road which has been closed since 17 December, they firmly stand by their calls to construct a new freight route less prone to closures.  

“Businesses are closed and growers and their transport companies are facing increasing costs all due to the closure of this major arterial route,” Mr Knuth said.

“While I appreciate the mid-February deadline set by the government, this is a project I will continue to monitor closely and put pressure on the department to stick to its timeline as many motorists and businesses are being impacted by the closure.” 

Mr Katter and Mr Knuth met with a number of lime growers at Mutchillba who reported they were being forced to pay $30 extra per pallet of produce, on average, equating to about $1500 in additional charges per truckload.  

“The Palmerston is vital to the economy of inland Far North Queensland and we need a government that can recognise that,” Mr Katter said. 

“It’s time for the tunnel. When there’s a traffic problem in Brisbane, straight away we see a new road or a tunnel. Where’s North Queensland’s tunnel? 

“We need the Bridle Track Tunnel now – connecting Mareeba to southern Cairns with a travel time less than 30 minutes. 

“That's where our producers, both agriculture and minerals should be sending their heavy freight. Not down our beautiful rainforest drives which close every week." 


Most Popular