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Biggest Far North Queensland rail and road project completed

North Queensland rail

A critical piece of the biggest road and rail infrastructure project in Far North Queensland has been officially commissioned, marking the final step towards the completion of the project.

The $535 million Bruce Highway-Cairns Southern Access Corridor (Stage 3)-Edmonton to Gordonvale project is delivering long-term improvements to traffic flow and road safety through reducing congestion and highway travel times, and improving road access and active transport networks.

The opening of the Menmuny Overpass, which spans 141 metres, is a significant milestone for the project.

It will be available to motorists by Friday, August 18, providing safe access to the highway in all directions.

Construction of the 10.5-kilometre section of newly duplicated and upgraded Bruce Highway between Edmonton to Gordonvale – the busiest two-lane section of Bruce Highway between Cairns and Brisbane – began in May 2020.

More than 200 million hours of work hav been undertaken on the project and involved more than 300 local suppliers and contractors.

In addition to upgrading and duplicating the highway, the project will also deliver:

  • A rail track upgrade and realignment of 4.5 kilometres of the Queensland Rail North Coast Line
  • A new intersection and two upgraded intersections
  • More than eight kilometres of upgraded local roads (8.9 kilometres)
  • New road and rail bridges at Wrights Creek and Stoney Creek
  • Cycleway bridge at Collinson Creek
  • 10.4 kilometres of cycleway
  • Twenty-seven kilometres of drainage
  • Three new pedestrian crossing facilities, including a pedestrian overpass

The project is funded by the Australian and Queensland governments under the Bruce Highway Upgrade Program, with the Australian Government committing $428.01m and the Queensland Government $106.99m.

The project will fully open to motorists by the end of the month, with remaining minor works to be completed in September.

Federal transport minister Catherine King said the Australian Government was committed to providing safe and reliable road infrastructure to connect and support Queensland and rural and regional Australia.

“Vital infrastructure projects like this are helping support rural and regional Australia by connecting communities, strengthening freight networks and improving road safety,” she said.

Queensland transport minister Mark Bailey said the new highway would future-proof this section of the Cairns Southern Access Corridor for years to come.

“Input from the people who live in the area has been key to the success of the project. The community helped to name 10 new pieces of infrastructure, which celebrate the area’s local identities and rich Indigenous culture,” he said.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for the local community to name these important transport links, and to recognise the significant cultures and people who have contributed to the region through that process.

“We know Cairns is growing rapidly and this investment provides a better road network service to keep people moving.”

The project was delivered by joint venture contractors John Holland, Seymour Whyte and AECOM.

John Holland operations manager Natasha Roy said the collaboration between the teams and the local subcontractors made the achievement possible.

“We have received support from the local community, from farmers to local businesses and residents, all understanding the disruptions from the construction because they knew it would result in a significant improvement of their future travel to and from Cairns,” she said.

“The sustainable construction methodologies used during the works have been recognised across the industry. The team was also conscious of the significant heritage and sensitive areas surrounding us, and implemented high standards of controls to ensure the project would be delivered with no harm to the land or the environment.

“By supporting local livelihood through jobs and business transactions, the project team has not only built strong relationships with the local contractors and businesses, but helped to provide experience and skills that will assist the organisations being part of future major infrastructure projects in Far North Queensland.”