The Cassowary Recovery Team has released a fact sheet to answer questions from the community about the cassowary land bridge, currently under construction over the Bruce Highway at Smiths Gap. The bridge is part of a highway upgrade to install an overtaking lane between El Arish and Tully.
Smiths Gap is the bottleneck of the Walter Hill Range wildlife corridor which connects Australia’s densest cassowary population, at Mission Beach, with the core World Heritage Area rainforests west of the Bruce Highway.
For many years, the Cassowary Recovery Team has identified Smiths Gap as a top priority for restoration. Landholders and organisations have been planting trees, removing weeds and protecting habitat there. When the team heard about the proposed overtaking lane at Smiths Gap, requiring road widening and habitat clearing, members began talking with the Queensland Government’s Department of Transport and Main Roads about the cassowary corridor issue.
The new overtaking lane and land bridge will make it safer for both drivers and wildlife. The bridge will be vegetated to attract wildlife and it joins national park on either side of the road. Soon-to-be-completed fencing, along both sides of the highway, will guide cassowaries away from the road and onto the bridge.
The overtaking lane and fauna crossing is a $30.7M project fully funded by the Australian Government under the Bruce Highway Overtaking Lane Program and constructed by the Queensland Government’s Department of Transport and Main Roads.
The bridge is expected to be completed in early 2024.
The Cassowary Recovery Team consists of 30 community, industry and government organisations working together to recover the endangered southern cassowary in the Wet Tropics and Cape York.
Image: Artist's impression of fauna crossing over Smiths Gap overtaking lane, Department of Transport and Main Roads