Captain Cook Highway, Cairns CBD to Smithfield, Upgrade

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 delivered 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

As part of the Captain Cook Highway, Cairns CBD to Smithfield, Upgrade, we are progressing a package of works for the section of Captain Cook Highway—locally known as Sheridan Street—between Airport Avenue and James Street.

As part of these works, a third lane will be installed on the inbound section of Sheridan Street between Airport Avenue to Lily Street. The additional lane will improve traffic flow for southbound traffic on this section of the highway, particularly in the morning peak. The works also include safety improvements such as intersection upgrades and passenger transport infrastructure upgrades.

Construction of the Airport Avenue to Lily Street works is expected to commence early 2023, weather permitting.


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

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