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 256m-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.

The department 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.


  • 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 million 
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 environmental 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 highest-ranked options is now open. 

Go to the consultation page to learn more about the options and provide your feedback. The feedback will be used to further inform the planning study.

Previous community consultation took place in May 2022, during the preliminary evaluation stage.

The outcomes of that consultation showed the 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.

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.