State Highway Corridor Link Studies, Far North Queensland

Department of Transport and Main Roads, AECOM, SKM 

Summary

Environment North has provided biodiversity, cultural heritage, and planning inputs into link studies for a number of State Highways for the Department of Transport and Main Roads throughout Far North Queensland. Projects include:

  • the Bruce Highway (Cardwell to Gordonvale),
  • the Captain Cook Highway (several schemes between Cairns and Mossman),
  • the Kennedy Highway (Kuranda to Mareeba), and
  • the Gillies Highway (Gordonvale to Atherton).

The aim of the link studies was to investigate the environmental opportunities and constraints to widening or realignment of highway corridors. Our work included consolidation of available information to identify environmental features that could influence future planning. Issues addressed included:

  • constraints posed by cross-highway biodiversity corridors (for example, the Bruce Highway crosses three corridors of regional significance and a further nine links of more local value),
  • remnant patches of natural vegetation and other habitat features (essential cassowary and mahogany glider habitat occurs in many places within the Wet Tropics and remnant vegetation sustains important listed plants and other animals),
  • important indigenous and non-indigenous cultural heritage features and places, and
  • opportunities to protect and enhance these values (including avoidance and mitigation features such as fauna crossings and restoration of degraded areas to improve ecological function). 

Other study team members investigated engineering aspects such as accident prevention, capacity and transport efficiency enhancement, overtaking opportunities, and flood immunity. Our work was integrated into the overall link assessment work and will inform further planning and investigations.

Innovation/Distinguishing Features

Reviewing the environmental values at a corridor level to incorporate opportunities or constraints at a very early, pre-concept stage.