Yes! When you’re living in Cairns you do get peak hour traffic! Due to the explosion in population growth over the last few years (and the lack of planning) Cairns peak hour traffic can get beyond ridiculous, especially when there is an accident.
Traffic heading to the southern suburbs of Cairns can make living in Cairns daunting, however the biggest issue with traffic congestion is on the Bruce Highway (on the Northern beaches suburbs side).
The Captain Cook Highway is only a dual lane highway (each side harbouring two lanes each way) which sounds sufficient, however when you have thousands of cars heading to work from one direction with only one way to get into town each morning, your trip can go from a standard 18 – 20 minutes from Smithfield, to up to an hour or above.
Sounds crazy hey? Many people don’t think that a town with a population the size of Cairns would suffer these big city issues. We wish that was the case. Some of our staff that moved up here were amazed at how poorly managed the infrastructure was. It seems that the local government just did not plan for the increasing numbers of cars on the roads of Cairns. Many locals (people that were born here) have seen a drastic degradation since 2005. What was once a quick trip can become a daunting drawn out crawl.
The bottlenecks that are causing the problem are the Smithfield roundabout and the intersection of James St and Sheridan St. It also does not help that the traffic lights in town are in desperate need of a synchronisation, where you can find that if you get a red light once, you’re going to get them all the way into town.
In the wet season, you’re also going to come across many accidents. Many residents living in Cairns seem to switch off their brains when it rains in Cairns, or they end up losing control of their vehicle when speeding through a roundabout (of which there are many). A good tip if you are looking to move to Cairns… make sure your tires haves good tread and your wiper blades are working well. When the wet season comes you’re going to need both to be in tip top shape.
There is talk of alleviating the issue by creating a second route through Yorkeys Knob to take the heat off Captain Cook Highway, however that would be years down the track. Cairns residents can only sit back and wait.
You can view Cairns traffic cameras here