Council wants fresh report on Daintree River crossing


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Douglas Shire Council will seek funding for a new analysis into the Daintree River crossing. IMAGE: Supplied.
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COUNCIL has unanimously agreed to seek the necessary funding from the State Government for an assessment of the Daintree River crossing.

At today’s Council meeting in Mossman, the go-ahead was provided to make a submission to the Maturing Infrastructure Pipeline Program (MIPP) for a $100,000 grant to fund the Daintree River Ferry Capacity Analysis Project.

Mayor Julia Leu said the grant provides a prime opportunity for a robust assessment of the river crossing.

“An up-to-date traffic analysis is prudent financial management for all residents who live in Douglas Shire,” she said.

But Daintree business owner, Betty Hinton, who has been leading the crusade to improve the service across the river, said “it is too little, too late”.

“An outstanding document was prepared by Guy Chester, from the Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management in 2004, and all it did was gather dust on a shelf,” said Hinton.

“I challenge the notion that the document is outdated. The predictions, such as traffic congestion, listed in the document have all occurred and worsened. And now to discard that work and start again is something I do not understand.” 

In Chester’s report, he provided four projections of visitors to the Daintree, and based on a population of 2000 and 1000. The scenarios were determined for 2011 as the peak year.

The four scenarios in the 2004 study were:

#1 – 2000 population, 500,000 self-drive, 275,000 tour passengers
#2 – 1000 population, 500,000 self-drive visitors, 275,000 tour passengers
#3 – 2000 population, 450,000 self-drive, 300,000 tour passengers
#4 – 1000 population, 450,000 self-drive, 300,000 tour passengers.

Council said today that these figures have not been realised adding that recent data suggests the population over the river is between 700 and 800 people.

It was pointed out at the meeting that the 2004 information is out of date and it would not be prudent to go back to the report.

Leu said the assessment will assist Council form a strategic view of the planning and infrastructure needed by pin-pointing traffic congestion and delays that may be experienced during peak periods.

“Council anticipates road carrying capacity, peak hour demand and duration of the peak will be accurately determined. The assessment aims to detail current congestion issues and model high level solutions, such as a second ferry, bridge or other travel demand initiatives. This will then be developed into a strategic transport plan,” she said.

She added that the 2004 study worked to visitor number and inflated population statistics not yet reached north of the Daintree River and needs to be updated.

“Council makes decisions on unbiased and factual data so it is absolutely crucial we have accurate statistics that reflects the current state of play.”

Hinton, who is a strong advocate for a two-lane bridge plus a bicycle lane across the river, said if Council did not act quickly, the negative impact it is already having on tourists will only worsen. She is also dead against imposing a toll if a bridge was built.

“We cannot afford to have tourists waiting for two hours to cross the river. We can ill afford to have this kind of negative information on social media,” she said.

“It’s time for action. We have been sitting on this for far too long and time is not on our side."

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