The Captain Cook Highway is set to reopen between Ellis Beach and Port Douglas on 20 January, following work to clear debris and mud left over by severe storms. 

There will be several single lane sections of the highway that are open that will remain under traffic control.

Construction of a temporary single lane on the Palmerston Highway began in early January, between Crawfords Lookout and Junction Road, to accommodate heavy vehicles.

Single lane closures, however, should be expected for an initial time period. Motorists should expect delays and plan their journey.

To assist crews working on this part of the highway it is important that only essential travel is undertaken along this route.

Construction of a temporary single-lane section has begun on the Palmerston Highway between Crawford’s Lookout and Junction Road.

This temporary single lane will accommodate heavy vehicles.

Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads, and Digital Services, Bart Mellish, said the reopening follows a massive effort from crews over the Christmas and New Year period.

“Approximately 30,000t of mud and debris have been removed from the road,” Minister Mellish said. 

“There are over 15 trucks and heavy vehicles working on the site making about 100 trips each day to dispose of the debris.

“We have approximately 100 personnel and 65 pieces of machinery onsite, including personnel from ten local civil and construction companies.”

Minister Mellish said that the Palmerston Highway suffered significant damage with major pavement slips occurring. 

“This will unfortunately mean unavoidable long-term closures of this road to enable significant repairs.”

Minister Mellish said that the State Government understands the significant impact these closures are having on heavy vehicle operators and the agricultural industry, so in addition to providing temporary permits for an alternative route it is fast-tracking work to restore access on Palmerston Highway.

“Construction of a temporary single lane section has commenced on the Palmerston between Crawfords Lookout and Junction Road and will accommodate heavy vehicles.

“The single lane will be open to traffic in mid-February, weather and site conditions permitting.

“Transport and Main Roads (TMR) is continuing to investigate long-term solutions for repairs to Palmerston Highway.

“Assistance will be provided through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA)”

Barron River MP, Craig Crawford, said that crews have performed a herculean task to clear the Captain Cook Highway.

“Everyone appreciates their efforts,” Mr Crawford said. 

“The re-opening of the Captain Cook Highway to Port Douglas, and construction of a single lane along the Palmerston Highway are significant steps in reconnecting our freight and tourism industries.”

Member for Cook, Cynthia Lui, said that the extent of the damage on the region’s roads, and the volume of work that has already been done by crews is phenomenal.

“As well as addressing these big challenges on the roads themselves, the crews in the TMR offices are working with affected residents, groups and businesses to facilitate access to difficult areas so that people can maintain their businesses, survey damage, and plan for the future,” Ms Lui said. 

“The Captain Cook Highway and Palmerston Highway are such important arteries for people, businesses, agriculture and tourism in the Far North and huge efforts are going into reopening access safely as soon as we can.”

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