A $1.25 million planning project, which will include spotlighting and prioritising the much-needed upgrades along the Kuranda Range Road, has been announced by the Palaszczuk Government.
Member for Barron River Craig Crawford said the Transport and Main Roads (TMR) project was a major step toward providing the hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors who used the road with a safe and efficient route between Cairns and the Northern Tablelands.
“At the end of this project we will have a very clear idea of what upgrades need to be done, where they need to be done and in what order they need to be done,” Mr Crawford said.
“Then we’ll know what we need to focus on in our planning for improving sections of road between Cairns and the Northern Tablelands, including the Kuranda Range Road.
“There were 131 crashes on the Kuranda Range Road between 2013 and 2018 and 70 per cent of those occurred on the first seven-kilometre stretch out of Smithfield.
“This project, which is expected to start in July, will strategically look at the roads between Cairns and the Northern Tablelands to identify and prioritise upgrades.”
Mr Crawford said a $45 million package of safety upgrades to a 31 kilometre stretch of the Kennedy Highway between Kuranda and Mareeba was also planned under TMR’s High Risk Roads Targeted Road Safety Program.
“Those works are expected to start in the first half of 2020 and take about two years to complete,” he said.
Mr Crawford also questioned whether Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch was genuinely committed to upgrading the Kuranda Range Road.
“The Palaszczuk Government wrote to him last December to seek Federal support for the installation of Intelligent Transport Systems to improve the management of the Kuranda Range Road, but has not received a reply,” Mr Crawford said.
“Mr Entsch is keen to tell everyone how important he thinks upgrading the Kuranda Range Road is, but he’s ignored the letter from Transport Minister Mark Bailey.
“Mr Entsch needs to tell people the full story on what he claims to have secured for the region.
“The funding he claims to have secured for the Captain Cook Highway is many years away.
“Most of the funding buried in the last Morrison budget won’t be available for at least another four years or more – meaning you have to vote for the LNP at least two more times before the dollars start to flow.
“Only Federal Labor has a chance to bring that funding forward if they win the election.”
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said the strategic project would bring into focus what exactly needed to be done along the major route between Mareeba and Cairns.
“Ultimately, this will lead to better and safer access for residents and visitors travelling between Cairns and the Tablelands,” she said.
“This has been going on for a very long time and it needs to be sorted out once and for all.
“And it has only happened under the watch of the Palaszczuk Government.”
Mayor Tom Gilmore, speaking on behalf of the 13 member councils of the Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (FNQROC) welcomed the news about the planning project, commending the Palaszczuk Government for its action on the range road.
“This is a first step in bringing the Kuranda Range Road back into both State and Federal focus, as we look forward to the development of a competent road transport corridor between the tablelands and the coast.”
“I know that the Queensland Government is committed to the people of Far North Queensland and, thanks to the lobbying by the Member for Barron River, we can mark another milestone in Kuranda Range Road development.”