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Department of Transport and Main Roads

Barr Creek Bridge

View to east from Barr Creek Bridge.

The Barr Creek Bridge is a 150m long shared walking and bicycle riding bridge across Barr Creek, north of Cairns. 

It opened in November 2021 and provides a critical connection for people riding bicycles and walking between Holloways Beach and Machans Beach. The bridge starts in the Willow Street Reserve at Holloways Beach on the northern side and ends within the designated road reserve on the southern side.

Cairns Regional Council designed and constructed the bridge, which was jointly funded by council, the Queensland Government through its Cycle Network Local Government Grants program, and the Australian Government's Regional Jobs and Investment Packages. 

Alongside construction of the bridge, Cairns Regional Council also delivered 2km of variable width off-road shared pathway connections either side of the bridge. This included:

  • 1km of pathway weaving through Air Services Australia land and into Machans Beach via Arnold Street. This path connects to the existing path on the Esplanade and also provides a direct link to Machans Beach State School
  • 1km of connecting pathways from the bridge to the beachfront through Holloways Beach.

The bridge and its connecting pathways form part of the Northern Beaches Leisure Trail, which is progressively being constructed by Cairns Regional Council to create an iconic bike riding and walking experience from the Cairns CBD to beachside suburbs north of Cairns. 

Key facts

  • 3.5m-wide active transport bridge extending 150m across Barr Creek. 
  • Low-profile concrete bridge with lighting and CCTV cameras for user safety.
  • 2km of variable width, off-road shared pathway connections also provided either side of bridge.
  • Links education and recreation facilities and residential and business areas between Holloways Beach and Machans Beach.
  • A critical link in the Northern Beaches Leisure Trail. 

Benefits

A woman and a child riding their bikes along Barr Creek Bridge.

The project delivered a safe off-road bicycle riding and walking connection to important recreation and shopping areas in both suburbs, as well as to Machans Beach State School—the only primary school serving both sides of Barr Creek. Other benefits include:

  • a safer and more direct route for students who live in Holloways Beach to actively travel to school
  • lighting and CCTV cameras linked to Cairns Regional Council's City Safe monitoring facilities installed on the bridge, which improve visibility and user safety
  • a connection for 2 beachside communities, creating greater opportunities for active transport commuting, fitness and recreation, as well as opportunities for social connectedness and economic growth
  • completion of an integral missing link in the Northern Beaches Leisure Trail.

Once complete, the Northern Beaches Leisure Trail will:

  • enable locals and visitors to ride or walk from the Cairns Esplanade along the unique foreshores of the northern beaches from Cairns to Palm Cove
  • enhance social, economic and environmental outcomes for the region, its residents, businesses and tourists. 

Challenges and innovations

The project's location in an environmentally sensitive area, in flight paths and within Air Services Australia security area, created several design and construction challenges. These included:

  • crane height and capacity limits
  • maximum bridge spans versus the number of piers 
  • tidal flows, fish passage and potential damage to riparian vegetation.

These challenges resulted in revolving design changes while respecting environmental approvals. Installation of a temporary structure in the creek during construction minimised vegetation impacts and allowed for tidal flows and fish passage.

The bridge design caters for maximum inundation of tides and outwards water flow during wet periods or as the tide recedes, ensuring year-round access and connectivity for people walking and riding.

Insights

  • Transparent community consultation and regular communications were integral to the project's success.
  • Early engagement with relevant authorities is essential when planning and constructing projects in sensitive environmental locations.

More information 

Contact the Cycling Programs team at Cycling_Infrastructure_Program@tmr.qld.gov.au for more information.

Last updated 07 September 2023