Four options for ferry's future considered in new study


Victoria Stone-Meadows


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A traffic assessment and modelling report of the Daintree Ferry has presented four options to manage traffic growth in the coming years.

The report, compiled by services firm GHD, lists four possible options for managing increased ferry traffic to 2036.

The four options considered in the report include doing nothing and maintaining the current ferry operations, building a bridge over the Daintree river, opening an additional ferry to complement the current one, and providing a new ferry with a larger vehicle capacity.

The options are based on an increase in ferry patronage of 1.027 per cent over the next 17 years.

Modeling shows this increase could see an extra 94 light vehicles and 11 heavy vehicles during peak times in the morning and afternoon compared to 2015. 

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The results of the study uses doing nothing to account for the increased usage as the baseline for the other three options.

The doing nothing option would mean traffic queues for the ferry could increase to 938 metres in the morning peak and 706 metres in the afternoon peak. 

The report based on current ferry usage models a maximum queue of 223 meters for the southbound ferry crossing and 590 metres for the northbound side.

The second option presented in the study is for a two-lane bridge with a posted speed limit of 40 km/h to be built over the river.

The modelling for this option shows no queue wait times and suggests building the bridge in a different location to allow the ferry to operate during bridge construction.

Council estimates the cost of building a two-way bridge over the river at about $45 million.

The larger ferry option modelling shows queue lengths of 380 metres in the morning peak and 300 metres in the afternoon peak.

While the larger ferry option requires a longer travel time, this is offset by the higher capacity and results in shorter wait time for ferry access.

The option of a second complementary ferry shows queue lengths of 562 metres in the morning peak and 297 metres in the afternoon peak. 

Douglas Shire Mayor, Julia Leu, said the second ferry is a favourite option but all options will be considered when making decisions for the future of the ferry.

“We now have very reliable data and traffic modelling predictions that we can refer to when making decisions about the Daintree Ferry,” she said.

“At this stage, we know there needs to be changes at the Daintree River crossing and a second ferry is putting a strong case forward.

“The ultimate decision will be a complex balancing act between what the market can offer, what our community wants, and our requirements as a Council.

“We are all enthusiastically heading into this tender period with an open mind and look forward to seeing some detailed, innovative solutions that industry experts can propose.”

Council expects tender documentation to be finalised and released to the market by July and are looking to award the contract by no later than 31 December 2019.

The full traffic report is available on the Council’s website and will accompany tender documents when they are released to the market.

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