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  • Crispin Till

    Email Crispin Till

    Proposal to extend national highway will bring more road funding to TNQ


    Is a "ring road" in Cairns a vital piece of missing infrastructure that will help ease traffic congestion and open up TNQ to greater economic opportunities?

    With the road corridors already in place, the push to extend the national highway to connect the Bruce, Captain Cook and Kennedy Highways and then link to the Cairns Western Arterial Road to provide a "loop" to the north and south of the CBD is being backed by groups including Cairns Regional Council and Advance Cairns.

    Earlier this year, the Advance Cairns board approved its preferred route for a Cairns Ring Road under then CEO Kevin Byrne.

    Under Advance Cairns' plan, the national highway would be extended to the Smithfield roundabout and along Cairns Western Arterial Road to link back to the Bruce Highway.

    Under an Act of Federal Parliament and an agreement between the Federal and State Governments, funding for major upgrades on the Bruce Highway are currently shared on an 80% to 20% basis.

    The national highway and the funding model that goes along with it currently ends at the Port of Cairns, south of the city centre, which is a designated intermodal hub.

    While it would be fairly simple to extend the national highway to Cairns Airport, which is also an intermodal hub, other extensions to take in state-controlled roads would require changes to federal legislation.

    If the push for a ring road is successful the Federal Government could become a major funding contributor to infrastructure projects on Captain Cook Highway and Kennedy Highway.

    $100,000 PLEDGE FOR CONCEPT STUDY

    As we head into the final days of the state election campaign, the LNP has committed $100,000 for a concept study for the proposed Cairns Ring Road project, with the party's Barron River candidate Michael Trout saying it would like at the best way to link the Bruce and Kennedy Highways and bypass the CBD.

    "I welcome the Federal Government's commitment to backing the ring road between the Bruce Highway and Kennedy Highway," he said.

    "The ring road is crucial to the growth of TNQ and this concept plan will be started within the first 100 days if we are elected."

    RING ROAD MEETINGS

    Labor is also "very supportive" of the ring road proposal, with Barron River MP Craig Crawford saying he has held meetings, including with Federal Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese on progressing the idea.

    "Bringing the existing Cairns Western Arterial Road and Captain Cook Highway into the federal funding model will allow us to tap into the extra funding source and will definitely help in the future," he said.

    "There have been talks between the various levels of government, and I have been working with the Department of Transport and Main Roads locally.

    "The next step is to come to an agreement on what the ring road is going to look like and where it will go."

    The Department of Transport and Main Roads told TropicNow it would work with whichever party forms government after November 25 regarding current and future road projects in TNQ.