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

The Barron River bridge planning project will investigate long-term solutions for the bridge near Kuranda.

The bridge over Barron River near Kuranda is a 257m-long, high-level bridge that opened to traffic in 1963. In October 2020, inspections identified fatigue cracks in some steel elements of the bridge.

These cracks were caused by many years of impacts from heavy vehicles, which are now much heavier than when the bridge was designed and built in the early 1960s.

We have successfully carried out investigations, testing and repairs to ensure the bridge is safe for vehicles under 50.5t. A regular monitoring and testing program ensures the bridge remains safe.

Benefits

  • 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.

Funding

This project is fully funded by the Queensland Government.

Total investment
$5.98 million 
Queensland Government
$5.98 million

Current status

The contract to investigate long-term solutions for the Barron River bridge near Kuranda has been awarded to Arup. Arup has also played an important part in the investigations and repairs completed to date on the existing bridge.

Community consultation

Online community consultation took place in May 2022.

We received 158 contributions.

Main community concerns with the current bridge were:

  • Safety for pedestrians, bike riders and motorists
  • Delays due to maintenance and testing
  • Structural integrity
  • Heavy vehicle usage
  • 60km/h speed limit

According to the feedback, the planning study should take into consideration:

  • Long-term solution for the bridge considering an alternative route between Cairns and the Tablelands
  • Options to improve safety for pedestrians and bike riders
  • Future traffic needs
  • Solution for heavy vehicles
  • Environmental impacts

All feedback received will be taken into consideration in the planning study.

Additional information

Arup has submitted a final technical report on investigations, monitoring and repair of the bridge.

The project will look at many different aspects, including:

  • future capacity improvements
  • a safe solution for pedestrians and bike riders
  • heavy vehicle access.

Project map

Map showing Barron River bridge, located near Kuranda