The Morrison Government has added the Captain Cook Highway to the National Land Transport Network recognising the critical importance of the road in providing a connection to the Cairns Airport and supporting freight movements across Far North Queensland.
The addition of the Captain Cook Highway from Cairns CBD to Smithfield to the NTLN complements the significant funding the Morrison Government has already committed towards the road.
Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said the Morrison Government has put $287.2 million on the table towards delivering much-needed upgrades along the Captain Cook Highway.
He said sadly the Queensland Labor Government currently had no interest in progressing the project and creating much-needed local jobs.
“We have put our money on the table to deliver these upgrades, now it is time for the Queensland Labor Government to stop playing politics and get on with the job of building it,” Mr Entsch said.
“The initial federal funding has allowed for work to commence on this game-changing project with the Early Works Business Case expected to be finalised soon.
“Tenders for the initial phase of the project are due to be released following finalisation of the Early Works Business Case and I encourage the Queensland Government to make sure this happens quickly.
“The announcement of the successful tender to develop the Major Construction Business Case is also expected to be made in the coming months.
“If the Queensland Labor Government upholds its end of the agreement, early works on the project are scheduled to commence in mid-2021.”
However, Mr Entsch said word on the street is the Queensland Government is actively stalling the Captain Cook Highway upgrades so the Premier can fly into town and make a grand announcement about the unfunded Cairns Western Arterial Road.
“It is a sad state of affairs when the Queensland Government is stalling a fully-funded project and the associated local jobs purely for political purposes,” he said.
“Any future announcement surrounding the unfunded Cairns Western Arterial Road is nothing but a desperate bid to try and con people into voting for them at the upcoming State Election.
“It is little wonder Cairns keeps missing out on its fair share of infrastructure funding under this government compared with other regions such as Townsville, Mackay, Central Queensland, Toowoomba and even Wide Bay.”
Advance Cairns Executive Chairman Nick Trompf said the announcement would be welcomed by the thousands of motorists living on the northern beaches who get caught up in daily traffic snarls.
“Advance Cairns was the architect in developing the concept of a ‘Ring Road’ around Cairns and has been advocating for the National Highway A1 to be extended to Smithfield for several years as a key plank to achieve this,” Mr Trompf said.
“The Federal Government’s recent addition to the National Land Transport Network of the Captain Cook Hwy from the CBD to Smithfield is a pivotal step towards realising the ‘ring road’ ambition.
“This recognition, coupled with the hundreds of millions of dollars already committed to this vital corridor, we will see improved productivity and more importantly less congestion from the CBD northwards.
“You have only got to look to the southern access of Cairns to see the proof of this with the $104m Kate-Aumuller St upgrade well advanced and the $480m Edmonton-Gordonvale duplication to start later this year.
“The final missing link in creating the Cairns ‘Ring Road’ is duplicating and upgrading the state-owned Cairns Western Arterial from Smithfield to Earlville.
“This has been a key pre-election focus for Advance Cairns’ Convoy to Capital Q delegation to Queensland Parliament in February and again as a follow up last week.”