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Northern region

The Northern district covers an area of 80,036km2, or 4.6% of Queensland. It extends from the Cardwell Range in the north to 50km south of Lake Buchanan, and from Townsville in the east to the west of Charters Towers. The district is home to 4.72% of Queensland total population. Major industries are tourism, agriculture, fishing, beef, dairy, horticulture and mining. The region looks after 1,661km of state-controlled roads and 521km the National Land Transport Network.

Regional facts

Northern district map 
Area covered


Population of Queensland


Data source: Queensland Government Statistician's Office (Queensland Treasury), Queensland Regional Profiles (retrieved 16 May 2019)


State-controlled roads**


National Land Transport Network**


Vehicle and machinery inspections


Boating infrastructures


Community safety events held


Vehicle safety inspections completed




Drivers licence tests conducted


Customer face-to-face interaction


Priority enabled intersection

Data source: *Bridge Information System (BIS), 30 June 2019
Data source: **A Road Management Information System (ARMIS), 2019


  • Rolled out TransLink in Townsville, including a new centralised bus hub.
  • Completed the $118.9 million1 Bruce Highway bridge upgrade at Cattle Creek and Frances Creek, south of Ingham.
  • Commenced construction of the $514.3 million2 Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade Project.
  • Completed the $43.5 million3 Riverway Drive Duplication Project.
  • Completed the $34.6 million3 Cape River Bridge upgrade on the Gregory Developmental Road, between Emerald and Charters Towers.

Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor protection activity

A planning project to preserve an 8.3km rail freight line which would connect both the Mount Isa and the North Coast rail lines directly to the Port of Townsville commenced in 2018–19.

Both the Australian and Queensland Governments have committed to preserving the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor (TEARC) alignment in the short-term to potentially reduce future costs and ensure that when demand supports it, construction of the freight line can proceed.

In late 2017, Building Queensland completed a detailed business case for TEARC and found that while the freight line was strategically important to future development of the port, current demand did not support its immediate construction.

The planning project to preserve the TEARC alignment in 2018–19 involved technical assessments to determine land requirements for the corridor, TMR’s environmental obligations, along with stakeholder engagement and land acquisition.

The $10 million project is jointly funded by the Australian Government and Queensland Government. The corridor preservation activities are expected to be complete by mid-2021.

TransLink rolled out in Townsville

On 13 May 2019, TMR officially rolled out TransLink in Townsville, meaning that customers in Townsville are now able to use TransLink’s Journey Planner for the first time to plan the most convenient and quickest journey. Customers are now also able to access the TransLink call centre for information and assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The rollout coincided with the opening of the newly completed Townsville City bus hub, the commencement of a new timetable connecting 10 key routes to the bus hub, and the arrival of 3 new buses.

The rollout and service change will benefit customers by providing:

  • a new centralised bus hub with more comfortable waiting space for customers and better connections through the Townsville CBD
  • a new timetable with better reliability
  • access to public transport information around the clock via multiple channels including website, app, and call centre.

TMR contributed $4 million to design and construct the bus hub, which was delivered in partnership with Townsville City Council. Construction works started in August 2018, and the new hub opened in May 2019. The bus hub, with improved customer accessibility, safety and comfort, now provides better access to Flinders Street, Ross Creek, future waterfront redevelopments and the new stadium.

Translink sign

A new TransLink bus hub enabling public transport improvements for Townsville.

The Greenvale–Yabulu Rail overpass removal

The Greenvale–Yabulu Rail overpass removal was completed in November 2018.

The Bruce Highway was closed at Yabulu, north of Townsville, for 3 consecutive nights to allow for the removal of a disused rail overpass that had been damaged three times when Queensland Rail decided to demolish it.

In the lead up to the works, TMR sought feedback from motorists, local businesses, transport operators and emergency services about how they would be impacted by a 3 night closure of the Bruce Highway at Yabulu. TMR then used this feedback, in addition to data like average annual daily traffic figures, to help schedule the works and required highway closures.

Once the closure dates were chosen, TMR undertook communication activities in the 2 week lead up to the works commencing to inform stakeholders about the highway closures. A gravel detour was made available for a limited period during the 3 nights of 8 hour closures.

However, for safety, heavy vehicles, motorbikes, caravans and vehicles towing a trailer were not permitted to travel on the detour. TMR communicated the delays to motorists and encouraged them to plan their journey in advance.

Not only was the demolition a success, but TMR’s thorough planning and communication ensured a significant decrease in the volume of traffic on the highway at Yabulu during its closure. The project was a great example of how coordinated stakeholder engagement, prior planning and listening to the needs of both the community and local businesses allowed TMR to complete essential works with minimal impacts.

Cattle Creek and Frances Creek bridges

The $118.9 million Bruce Highway bridge upgrades at Cattle Creek and Frances Creek, south of Ingham, were complete in late 2018.

The works included construction of a new 644m long, higher-level bridge spanning the Cattle Creek floodplain and a new bridge at Frances Creek.

The new bridges will significantly improve flood immunity on this stretch of the Bruce Highway during north Queensland’s annual wet season, reducing the average annual closure time from 29 hours to 3 and a half hours. This will improve freight connectivity, travel reliability and ensure better access to essential health and community services in regional centres.

Overall, the project delivered 5.8km of new road and bridge infrastructure, including upgrades to 5 rural intersections to improve safety, as well as a new rest area in Frances Creek. The project was jointly funded by the Australian Government and Queensland Government (based on 80:20 funding arrangements).

Aerial view of bridge with trucks

Completed 644 metre long Cattle Creek Bridge, south of Ingham.

Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade Project

Construction of the $514.3 million Bruce Highway Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade Project around 50km south of Townsville commenced in 2018–19.

Flooding from the Haughton River results in Bruce Highway closures at this location every 1–2 years on average; significantly affecting locals, transport operators, tourists and other road users.

As part of the upgrade project, 5 new and higher bridges will be built, 13.5km of Bruce Highway pavement will be upgraded (in sections on a new alignment), 2 highway overpasses of cane tramways will be built, intersections will be upgraded, and wide centre line treatments will be installed.

These upgrades will reduce the frequency and duration of weather-related Bruce Highway closures and will improve safety for motorists. During 2018–19, the design and preliminary works were conducted, before major construction works commenced in April 2019. Construction is expected to be completed in mid-2021. This project is jointly funded by the Australian Government and Queensland Government.

Bowen Road Bridge repair works (Bridge Renewal Program)

In August 2018, TMR commenced repair works on the Bowen Road Bridge in Townsville. The bridge was constructed in 1952 and, while still structurally sound, repairs were required on some of the bridge’s deteriorated foundations to ensure it remained strong, safe and operational into the future. The initial $6.663 million project was jointly funded by the Australian Government and Queensland Government (based on 50:50 funding arrangements) under the Bridges Renewal Program.

Prioritisation of this work will ensure that more than 20,000 vehicles, along with hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists, can continue to use this crucial transport link each day, now and into the future. As part of the project, RoadTek installed sheet piling in the Ross River to allow crews to drain sections of the river and excavate around the bridge foundations to assess the damage before undertaking repairs. It was not until these works commenced that TMR was able to fully inspect the majority of the bridge’s pile caps and piles.

Extensive defects were subsequently discovered, that were greater than the original anticipated scope of works and would ultimately impact on the project’s costs and timeframes.

The project incurred further delays and costs as a result of the North and Far North Queensland Monsoon Trough in January and February 2019, which caused significant flooding in the Ross River and closed the bridge and project site for more than two weeks.

RoadTek mobilised back on site and recommenced project works in late February 2019.

In April 2019, TMR was able to secure an additional $5 million in funding, using savings from other bridge renewal projects, to ensure the essential repair works could be completed on the bridge.

Works are due for completion in late-2019.

Case study

Transport Inspectors protecting road infrastructure

Transport Inspectors play an important role in protecting the state’s valuable road infrastructure. This includes enforcing temporary road closures during natural disasters and other road restrictions when needed.

Transport Inspectors enforced temporary load restrictions on Bowen Road Bridge in Townsville while extensive rehabilitation work of the structure was undertaken by the department. To maintain infrastructure integrity and the safety of the bridge workers, Transport Inspectors were rostered around the clock over a 4 month period to ensure compliance with heavy vehicle mass limits permitted to travel on the bridge.

In the first few weeks, Inspectors were diverting around 90 over mass vehicles per week from travelling on the bridge before numbers decreased to an average of 40–50 vehicles per week. In addition, more than 30 B-Double vehicles were diverted that were not only over mass but are not permitted to travel on this route at any time.

Growth Area and Regional Infrastructure Investment Fund

In late 2018, the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning invited agencies to nominate proposals for funding under the Growth Area and Regional Infrastructure Investment Fund (GARIIF). Announced in the 2018–19 state budget, the GARIIF provides $40 million over two years from 2018–19 to improve the prosperity and liveability of Queensland’s regional communities, focusing on accelerating projects that will have a positive impact on areas facing high growth pressures.

TMR successfully secured $7.4 million for the construction of the Reid Park Active Transport Bridge: North Queensland Stadium Access Project in Townsville. This project will facilitate safe access and improve the overall customer experience to major sporting and cultural events at the North Queensland Stadium and wider Townsville City Waterfront Priority Development Area. Project construction will commence in 2019–20.

Transport inspectors signalling to a truck to pull over

Transport Inspectors guarding the Bowen Road Bridge in Townsville.

Future priorities

  • Continue works on a $43 million1,4 package of safety upgrades on the Bruce Highway, between Townsville and Ayr, including pavement widening,  wide centre line treatment, and the construction of  3 overtaking lanes between Mailman Road and Mackenzie Creek.
  • Continue work on a $16 million1 package of safety upgrades on the Bruce Highway, at Bluewater north of Townsville, including pavement widening, wide centre line treatment, intersection upgrades and the construction of an overtaking lane.
  • Complete business case development for the $180 million1 Townsville Ring Road Stage 5 project, that will duplicate the existing Townsville Ring Road, between Vickers Bridge and Shaw Road, delivering improved efficiency, reliability and safety for freight and passenger vehicles.


  • 1 This project is jointly funded by the Australian Government and Queensland Government.
  • 2 Fully funded under the Bruce Highway Upgrade Program.
  • 3 Funded by the Queensland Government.
  • 4 Part of this project is fully funded by the Australian Government.