Resilience boost for critical north west Queensland route

Given the severe damage to the Flinders Highway and other key transport routes following the North and Far North Queensland Monsoon Trough event, Transport and Main Roads (TMR) made north western Queensland the focus of its 2019 Betterment Program.

After causing unprecedented flooding in the Townsville region in late January 2019, the monsoon trough tracked west, inundating vast areas of the state’s north-west and severely damaging significant parts of the Mount Isa Rail Line and Flinders Highway. The 150-kilometre stretch of the Flinders Highway from Richmond to Julia Creek was cut when flooding washed away entire sections of the road pavement.

Given the importance of the highway as a freight route, emergency works were fast-tracked and the most severely damaged section reopened to traffic just 13 days after major flooding receded.

While planning further repairs, TMR took the opportunity to build for future resilience on the Flinders Highway. Regional and district priorities were considered, along with previous studies to support betterment projects, including the Flinders Highway Flood Study, which nominated strategic locations for flood immunity and resilience projects.

Following detailed damage assessments, reconstruction works began in late September 2019 to repair flood-damaged pavement sections of the Flinders Highway in the Hughenden to Richmond and Richmond to Julia Creek sections. Further road rehabilitation commenced on other sections in October 2019.

TMR also delivered two Flinders Highway betterment projects funded through the 2019 Betterment Program to improve flood resilience on this critical route. Works at key locations between Hughenden and Richmond, and at Nelia, involved stabilising damaged pavement and undertaking shoulder repairs and drainage works to reduce the risk of damage in future floods.

A total of almost 22 kilometres was reconstructed or improved, with all Flinders Highway works completed in December 2019, prior to the wet season.

Eligible reconstruction works are jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.