Cairns Ring Road (Cairns CBD to Smithfield)

The planning for a $359 million program of road upgrades is progressing on the Captain Cook Highway between Cairns and Smithfield.

The planning study will examine the wider Cairns City Road network, to inform the options analysis and the prioritisation and staging framework for construction along the route.


  • Improves safety
  • Increases capacity
  • Improves network efficiency
  • Increases traffic flow
  • Reduces peak hour congestion
  • Reduces travel time
  • Contributes to economy
  • Contributes to regional growth
  • Better active transport

Key features

The type of future work to be undertaken, subject to the findings of the planning study, will typically include:

  • total network solutions, to be completed in stages
  • road widening
  • intersection safety upgrades
  • Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)
  • active transport improvements
  • public transport improvements.


The project is funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments and was announced as part of the 2019-20 federal budget.

The total commitment for the project is $359 million with the Australian Government contributing $287.2 million and the Queensland Government $71.8 million on an 80:20 basis. Investment ID 1351442

Total investment
$359 million
Australian Government
$287.2 million
Queensland Government
$71.8 million

Airport Avenue to James Street works

In early 2021, the department undertook stakeholder engagement and technical investigations for capacity upgrades between Airport Avenue and James Street. These investigations identified complexities with drainage and road alignment along this section.

The department will trial a clearway of the Captain Cook Highway (Cairns CBD). A clearway is proposed from Airport Avenue to Lily Street for inbound traffic at morning peak times and will include creation of a third lane using line marking, signage and new asphalt. This interim solution is proposed for a duration of 2 to 3 years to allow for completion of master planning for this section of the Captain Cook Highway.

Detailed design for these works is expected to be complete in March 2022, with construction expected to start in June 2022.

Consultation activities for the Cairns Ring Road (CBD to Smithfield) project started in August 2020 and will be ongoing throughout the project.

Cairns Ring Road alignment map

Cairns Ring Road CBD to Smithfield