Captain Cook Highway, Cairns CBD to Smithfield, Upgrade

Master planning is progressing on the Captain Cook Highway between Cairns CBD and Smithfield.

Like the upgrade to the Bruce Highway on Cairns Southern Access Corridor, implementation of the delivery of the Captain Cook Highway, Cairns CBD to Smithfield, Upgrade is proposed to be staged.

Within the overall master plan, the department has identified a priority $359 million Stage 1 project, on the section of Captain Cook Highway between Florence Street and Aeroglen Drive.

The proposed scope of the priority (Stage 1) project between Florence Street and Aeroglen Drive will include upgrading to 6 lanes, north of Grove Street, active transport options, drainage improvements, indented bus stops and intersection upgrades.

The preliminary master plan also incorporates a 2-way cycleway from Arnold Street connecting to the shared pathway constructed as part of the Smithfield Bypass project, providing improved access to the active transport wider network and for recreational activities along the corridor. The new cycleway will connect to the existing Aeroglen-to-CBD cycleway, which is part of the Cairns Principal Cycle Network and runs parallel to Sheridan Street.


  • 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 delivered in stages
  • road widening
  • intersection safety upgrades
  • Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)
  • active transport improvements
  • public transport improvements.


This project is funded by the Australian and Queensland governments and was announced as part of the 2019-20 federal budget. Investment ID 1351442

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

Airport Avenue to James Street works

As part of the Captain Cook Highway, Cairns CBD to Smithfield, Upgrade, the department has completed a package of works for the section of Captain Cook Highway – locally known as Sheridan Street – between Airport Avenue and James Street.

A third lane has been installed on the inbound section of Sheridan Street between Airport Avenue to Lily Street. The additional lane has improved traffic flow for southbound traffic on this section of the highway, particularly in the morning peak. The works also included safety improvements such as intersection upgrades and passenger transport infrastructure upgrades.

Construction of the Airport Avenue to Lily Street works was completed in August 2023.

Current status

Master planning, including a staged approach for the upgrades, is progressing and is expected to be completed in mid-2025. 

A detailed program of construction timeframes for the priority (Stage 1) project will be developed once the planning is complete.

The preliminary master plan was released for public comment in January 2023. The consultation closed on 28 February 2023.

Changes to on street parking

To accommodate the road upgrades, including additional lanes, active transport and service relocations, along Sheridan Street and to reduce potential property impacts, the centre median will be narrowed, and on-street parking will be removed for extended lengths.

The department will engage with directly affected property and business owners during the master planning to provide information about proposed changes to on-street parking.

The department will continue to engage with stakeholders throughout the life of the project.

Captain Cook Highway, Cairns CBD to Smithfield, Upgrade alignment map

 CCHU Simplified Webpage Map_November 2022