Kennedy Highway (Cairns - Mareeba), Barron River bridge upgrade, planning

The Barron River bridge planning project aims to explore long-term, sustainable solutions for the bridge located near Kuranda.

Constructed in 1963, the bridge spans 256m over the Barron River, serving as a vital link in the transportation network. Inspections conducted in 2020 revealed fatigue cracks in certain steel components of the bridge. These cracks are attributed to decades of exposure to heavy vehicle loads, which have significantly increased since the bridge's construction.

To address these structural concerns, the department undertook thorough investigations, testing and repairs to ensure the safety of the bridge for vehicles under 42.5t. Additionally, a comprehensive monitoring and testing program has been implemented to continuously assess the bridge's condition and uphold safety standards.


  • Improves safety
  • Improves network efficiency
  • Accessibility
  • Contributes to regional growth
  • Better active transport

Key features

  • Assess and develop long-term solutions for either replacing or rehabilitating the existing bridge.
  • Viable delivery strategy that also considers the ongoing management and rehabilitation of the existing bridge.


This project is fully funded by the Queensland Government.

Total investment
$8.98 millionĀ 
Queensland Government
$8.98 million

Current status

The preliminary evaluation stage for the planning project was completed in March 2023. A detailed cost estimate and a business case is expected to be completed late 2024.

Preliminary evaluation

The department analysed potential options for a long-term solution for the Barron River bridge to determine suitability through transport modelling, environmental, economic, and construction assessments.

The preferred options must:

  • improve safety
  • be environmentally sustainable
  • improve network efficiency and connectivity
  • be the best value for money.

The highest ranked options are being investigated in more detail. This will include a detailed cost estimate in the next phase of planning, the business case, which is expected to be completed in late 2024.

Community consultation

Community consultation on the 2 highest-ranked options (a major upgrade option and a new bridge option) took place in November and December 2023.

Go to the consultation page to learn more about the options.

The department received 51 contributions for the major upgrade option and 144 contributions for the new bridge option.

Summary of the feedback on the major upgrade option:

  • Most respondents don't trust the existing bridge and don't believe a major upgrade will completely fix the current issues.
  • The temporary bridge that is required during construction of the major upgrade was not received well.
  • The proposed 4m pathway for pedestrians and bike riders is appreciated.

Summary of the feedback on the new bridge option:

  • A new bridge is the preferred option for the majority of the respondents as this is believed to provide a safe and reliable crossing that is future proof.
  • The proposed 4m pathway for pedestrians and bike riders is appreciated.
  • Concerns with this option include the proposed roundabout at Black Mountain Road, the removal of the existing bridge and environmental impacts.

The feedback will be used to further inform the planning study.

Kennedy Highway (Cairns - Mareeba), Barron River bridge upgrade, planning location map

Map showing Barron River bridge, located near Kuranda

Map showing location of Kennedy Highway (Cairns - Mareeba), Barron River bridge upgrade, planning project.