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Monday, July 15, 2024

Crucial highway washed out

LOCAL MPs are calling for the immediate repair of the Palmerston Highway, with the crucial freight link currently unusable due to large and dangerous washouts caused by ex-tropical cyclone Jasper.

Member for Hill Shane Knuth and Kennedy MP Bob Katter have been advocating to both levels of Government on the importance of a quick permanent fix for the highway.

“I have spoken to the new State Minister for Transport and Main Roads Bart Mellish and Federal Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt about the importance of the Palmerston Highway as it is the major freight route for the food bowl of Far North Queensland,” Mr Knuth said.

“We cannot rely on the Kuranda Range as it shut at least once a week for about four hours.”

Mr Knuth said there were local contractors that were well-versed in what is required to fix the Palmerston and can mobilise immediately, through Christmas.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads advised that they understand the criticality of the freight industry in providing goods and services to the community and have been working closely with the freight industry to determine and provide alternate heavy vehicle routes for B-doubles and Type 1 Road Trains.

However, they said, “Unfortunately, due to some intersection configurations and bridges the Type 1 Road Train route through the Tablelands cannot be extended.”

Kennedy MP Bob Katter said his office had received justified concerns from transport operators and producers about the extended closure of the major freight route.

“They have every right to be worried, this is the food bowl of our region, which has been cut off the from coast, from the markets and from the supermarket shelves of Australians,” Mr Katter said.

Mr Katter said the immediate fix to the highway would not cause similar damage from occurring in the future and is calling for alternative routes.

“We want the Palmerston Hwy repaired urgently, as Shane Knuth explained, but we’re in Far North Queensland; you can’t tell me this won’t happen again,” he said.

“We seriously cannot afford to continue having all three of our highways connecting the Tablelands to the coast cut off every time there’s rain – all it takes is one tree.

“If this was Brisbane, and major economic wealth generating roads were impacted there – would they just sit around?”

Keep up with the latest news in Cairns and the Far North, and check out some of our top stories this week: Youth crime remains hidden to parties and JCU researchers lead disease study.

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