Roadworks, Transport Industry News

Palmerston Highway reopens after cyclone damage

Palmerston Highway

Far North Queensland’s Palmerston Highway has officially reopened to all traffic, including heavy vehicles, following urgent works to rectify the impacts of ex-tropical Cyclone Jasper.

Last weekend, the Tablelands region was able to begin moving quicker again with the opening of the highway.

The urgent works helped open a single lane and were jointly funded by the federal and Queensland governments through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).

Transport and Main Roads (TMR) minister Bart Mellish says the crew put in “an enormous effort” to reopen the critical freight route.

“TMR understands the impact that damage to the Palmerston Highway has had on heavy vehicle operators, the agricultural sector and Tablelands residents and businesses,” Mellish says.

“These works were conducted in a complex and challenging environment that included the only full width pavement slips on state-controlled roads in Far North District. The damage was significant – the entire hill with the road on it had sunk two metres and shifted two metres sidewards down the hill.

“Although some heavy rain did postpone works, TMR crews pulled out all the stops to safely complete works and ease pressure on the state-controlled road network. The single lane will accommodate all traffic including heavy vehicles and TMR will continue to investigate long term solutions for repairs to the Palmerston Highway.”

The highway suffered significant landslips and pavement failures due to record rainfall associated with the cyclone.

To repair it, TMR crew laid a fresh seal over a temporary track single lane between Crawford’s Lookout and Junction Road.

Works included excavating 4200 tonnes of earth, installing 5400 tonnes of rock, laying 1500 tonnes of road base, followed by laying 150 tonnes of asphalt. Crews also installed 60 lengths of stormwater pipe.

Construction of the single lane section began on January 8, 2024 after the hill stopped moving and the ground had dried sufficiently to enable work to begin.

Federal emergency management minister Murray Watt says the works will help reconnect the Far North Queensland community.

“I want to commend crews for their work to get this road open as soon as possible in challenging conditions – their efforts will help people travel to work, school, see their friends and family, and importantly, help economic activity flow easier to Tablelands communities,” Watt says.

“We know that there is more work to be done across an absolutely massive area, but I want to assure people we will continue to work with the Queensland government to forge ahead with the recovery.”

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