A NEW ferry and upgrades to approach roads will address the long-standing issue of lengthy waiting times at the Daintree Ferry in the peak tourism season. These measures will also improve the level of service for regular ferry users.
Douglas Shire Council Mayor Michael Kerr confirmed Council had resolved to replace the existing Daintree Ferry with a new ferry with increased loading capability.
“Over the past 12 months, we have conducted extensive research to re-evaluate all reasonable initiatives to improve ferry services,” he said.
“This will deliver an increase in the number of vehicles carried across the river every hour, so much so, that when it comes into service, we can offer a better tourism experience for visitors and reduced travel time for locals.”
Moving forward, Council staff will also provide quarterly updates about the Daintree Ferry replacement project to Councillors and the public at future Ordinary Council Meetings.
Mayor Kerr said the first step is to prepare a design scope for the new vessel to confirm what Council wants to achieve, such as number of vehicles and increased loading and unloading capability.
As to road infrastructure, preliminary concept plans for the approach road improvements have been prepared but would need to be updated to accommodate increased loading and unloading of vehicles.
“We expect concept plans showing the new road alignments will be released for public comment in the new year,” he said.
“Funds have been allocated in the 2022/23 budget for approach roads on the northern and southern side as well as ferry design work.”
All going to plan, the aim is to complete the road improvements in time for the 2025 tourism season.
Council cannot at this point, provide a timeframe for a new vessel. It can take at least 12 months before the detailed design is finalised by a naval architect.
This then needs to be checked and potentially amended before being approved by the relevant authorities.
All this needs to occur before tenders can be sought from ship builders and the first steel plate welded into place.
Council’s full report may be viewed here.