Cairns Western Arterial

Cairns Western Arterial Road, Redlynch Connector to Captain Cook Highway Duplication (CWAR)

An integrated and efficient road connectivity network is critical for economic stability and growth.

Upgrading Cairns Western Arterial Road, Redlynch Connector to Captain Cook Highway Duplication (CWAR) is essential to connecting Cairns’ freight routes with the region’s premier agriculture producing areas (Tablelands, Cape York Peninsula, and Mossman), while also meeting demand for daily commuter traffic.

The effectiveness and safety of the road transport network in and around Cairns will continue to be adversely impacted until the CWAR is fully duplicated from Redlynch to Smithfield and in line with an upgrade of major intersections. A total investment of $300m has been made by the Australian and Queensland Governments on an 80:20 basis to duplicate from Redlynch Connector Road to Captain Cook Highway.

It is now imperative that the Queensland Government commits to the balance of funding and that planning for the duplication work is completed as soon as possible.

Benefits to the region

The proposed duplication of the CWAR from Redlynch to Smithfield promises significant advantages for the region.

Primarily, it stands as a catalyst for the growth of the regional economy, laying the foundation for increased economic opportunities and development. Furthermore, this initiative aims to substantially reduce travel time while enhancing the reliability and efficiency of the existing network, fostering smoother and more consistent transportation routes.

Moreover, the project is dedicated to bolstering safety standards, ensuring a secure and protected environment for commuters.

Additionally, the undertaking encourages the utilisation of public and active transport, advocating for more sustainable and eco-friendly modes of travel within the region.

Recommendation

The Queensland Government ensures construction of the Cairns Western Arterial Road (Redlynch Connector to Captain Cook Highway duplication) commence no later than mid-2024*.

The Queensland Government allocates $190m towards the Cairns Western Arterial Road (Redlynch Connector to Captain Cook Highway duplication) over three years from 2024-25 in accordance with the Queensland Transport and Roads Investment Program 2023-24 to 2026-27*.

Project overview

The Cairns Western Arterial Road (CWAR) is central to freight, commuter and tourism traffic and supports resilience and connectivity when C2S is flooded.

The effectiveness and safety of the road transport network in and around Cairns will continue to be adversely impacted until the CWAR is fully duplicated from Redlynch to Smithfield and in line with an upgrade of major intersections. A total investment of $300m has been made by the Australian and Queensland Governments on an 80:20 basis to duplicate from Redlynch Connector Road to Captain Cook Highway.

The CWAR is considered a priority infrastructure project as the road is heavily congested on a daily basis, with about 42,000 vehicles using the road each day¹. Further, when the Captain Cook Highway is flooded during wet season or in the event of a natural disaster, CWAR is the only flood-free access route between Cairns, the northern beaches, and the Kennedy Highway. Increasing extreme weather events make this all the more imperative.

Upgrading CWAR is essential to connecting Cairns’ freight routes with the region’s premier agriculture producing areas (Tablelands, Cape York Peninsula, and Mossman), while also meeting demand for daily commuter traffic. At the 2020 Queensland state election, the Queensland Government pledged $60m to the CWAR. In the 2021-22 Federal Budget, the Australian Government committed $240m towards the duplication of the remaining single carriageway section of the road. It is now imperative that the Queensland Government commits to the balance of funding and that planning for the duplication work is completed as soon as possible.

¹ Infrastructure Australia, Cairns Western Arterial Road capacity, last updated April 4, 2023

*This is subject to the Australian Government’s Infrastructure Investment Program Strategic Review.

Last updated: 17 November 2023

2024-25 Queensland Budget Submission

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