Construction has commenced on the $52 million Smithfield Bypass in Queensland, which aims to ease congestion on the Captain Cook Highway (CCH).
The high-profile project, funded by the Queensland Government, will divert through traffic away from the CCH and make the Smithfield roundabout safer.
Highway Albem Joint Venture will deliver the design and construction of the project.
Member for Barron River, Craig Crawford, said the project is supporting about 115 jobs for the duration of this project, and is contributing to the addition of 1000 extra jobs in the Cairns region over 2018-19.
“As part of the tender process, it was important potential contractors could demonstrate their commitment to engaging local employees and businesses,” Mr Crawford said.
“I am pleased to see these important works awarded to a business that will support our families here in the Cairns region.”
Mr Crawford said the upgrades would help reduce congestion and make life much easier on the roads.
“As the people of Cairns know all too well, the Smithfield roundabout can be heavily congested at times,” he said.
The roundabout has a crash rate three to six times higher than the Queensland average, and has previously been dubbed by insurers as the worst crash location in Cairns.
It is hoped that diverting traffic onto the new bypass will reduce the number of vehicles on the highway, improving travel times, reducing delays and lowering crash risks.
A dedicated off-road cycle path near the bypass will also improve access for bike riders in Smithfield and the surrounding areas.
Mr Crawford said the design phase for this project recommended bringing forward a future stage of the Smithfield Bypass.
“By doing this work now as part of the current construction plan, we will improve the wider road network’s functionality, improving road safety and saving costs on future works.”
Mr Crawford said community feedback had helped form changes to the project design.
“We will continue to engage with the community and more consultation is planned in coming months,” Crawford said.
“With construction underway, we are also asking residents and commuters to slow down, keep an eye out for changed conditions and follow all directions of traffic controllers.
“I thank motorists in advance for their patience and urge everyone to drive safely during construction.”
Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister, Mark Bailey, said the 115 jobs supported during this project was part of a much bigger and highly-successful job-creation program.
“The Palaszczuk Government has a $46 billion infrastructure program that is supporting 38,000 jobs in this year alone,” Mr Bailey said.
“In the lead up to the last election, building the Smithfield Bypass was one of the Palaszczuk Government’s major infrastructure commitments for Far North Queensland so it is pleasing to see heavy machinery on site getting the job done.”
Works are expected to finish in late 2020, weather permitting.