Mareeba Shire Council meet with Coalition to discuss alternative Kuranda Range Road routes

Zoe Thomas
By Zoe Thomas
Updated May 12 2022 - 9:01pm, first published 8:30pm
The Coalition government met with the Mareeba Shire Council to discuss alternative routes for the Kuranda Range Road. Picture: Supplied

The Coalition government will commit $11 million to undertake a preliminary evaluation case on upgrading the Kuranda Range Road to address safety and capacity issues.

The investment will also include an assessment of possible alternative routes.

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Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, senator Susan McDonald, member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch and Kennedy candidate Bryce MacDonald, met with Mareeba Shire Council mayor Angela Toppin and Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils chair Michael Kerr met on Thursday.

"We have invited Barnaby to meet with council to discuss our concerns with the Kuranda Range road, and the possible investigation into alternative routes," Ms Toppin said.

"It is critically important that this is a safe and reliable transport corridor, not only for our domestic travellers, but also for the major industries in our shire."

Mr Joyce said Mareeba was a central connection point for all major industries but the Kuranda Range Road had caused problems due to the complex nature of the landscape.

"Mareeba has cattle coming in from the Cape and from out west, you've also got tropical fruits and tourism," he said.

"The road goes through a world heritage rainforest, it's windy, crowded and we're unable to get B-doubles down the hill.

"Let's get this study done, look at alternate routes and work out how we can connect the Atherton Tablelands down to Cairns."

Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils chair Michael Kerr, who represents the 12 local governments within the region, said the council had been advocating for an alternative route study for several years.

Coalition government commit $11 million to undertake a preliminary evaluation case on upgrading the Kuranda Range Road. Photo: file.

"This is a project that not only affects the Cairns to Mareeba route, but also affects the other councils that surround Mareeba, which the traffic feeds into," he said.

"This is something that we've been advocating for many years to try and get a study done to find an alternative route to take the traffic from Cairns through to Mareeba to allow growth in this region."

Mr Kerr said an alternative route would also benefit the growth of the local agricultural and commercial industries.

Senator for Queensland and Special Envoy for Northern Australia Susan McDonald said all major northern industries relied on reliable freight routes and were critical to upgrading the supply chains of North Queensland.

"Tropical fruits, beef cattle from the north, as well as the mining industry all rely on safe, reliable freight and supply routes," she said.

"This investigation into alternate routes from the Tablelands down to Cairns is a critical piece of infrastructure."

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Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said the funding commitment was to find alternative routes.

"This is not about doing another report on the Kuranda Range Road," he said.

"It's about looking at alternatives.

"It's critical that we get not only the preferred alternative, but we need some costings because at the end of the day, rather than just trying to do safety on an existing highway that's never going to meet the future needs, it is better that we get a proper cost plan.

"I would love to see that done within two years at the latest."

Zoe Thomas

Zoe Thomas

Journalist - North Queensland Register/Queensland Country Life

Northern based journalist at North Queensland Register and Queensland Country Life.

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