The Cairns Western Arterial Road provides important access for commuter, tourism and freight traffic. It also supports flood resilience in cases when the Captain Cook Highway is flooded. It is recognised as a key strategic corridor in the Queensland Government’s Far North Queensland Regional Transport Plan (2019) that supports supply chains, regional productivity and access to markets.
While 8 km of the 14 km road has divided carriageways, the remaining 6 km is an undivided two-lane road. There is also limited separation between active transport, buses and general traffic, making active transport less attractive to users.
Approximately 42,000 vehicles use the busiest sections of the road each day, resulting in heavy congestion and queuing on the undivided sections of the road and at its intersections.
These issues are expected to worsen over time with Cairns' growing population and employment, which are forecast to increase by 43% and 52% respectively between 2021 and 2046.