A major milestone has occurred at the $193 million Port of Townsville Channel Upgrade Project, with the recent delivery of more than half of the total rock required to build a protective sea wall.
The Port of Townsville is the largest commercial Port in Northern Australia, but at just 92 metres, the shipping channel is one of the narrowest in the country.
Currently, vessels up to 238 metres in length can safely access the Port. Yet ships are getting larger, so the Port needs to adapt so that it is can continue to service the needs of North Queensland’s mining, defence, agriculture, construction, vehicle and tourism industries.
The $1.6 billion Port Expansion Project (PEP) is a long-term development plan for the port. It includes capital dredging for channel widening, land reclamation to develop a new outer harbour, wharves, and associated infrastructure to be constructed by 2040.
Stage One of the PEP is the $193 million Channel Upgrade Project that will deliver a wider shipping channel and a 62-hectare Port Reclamation Area.
The shipping channel will be expanded from its current width of 92 metres to 180 metres at the inshore (Port) end, then taper to 120 metres at the seaward end.
The channel is required to be wider at the inshore end, as this is where wind and currents have the greatest impact on a vessel’s maneuverability.
The length limit for vessels using the Port of Townsville before channel widening is 238 metres. The wider shipping channel will allow vessels of up to 300 metres in length to safely access the Port.
As of 26 June 2020, over 375,000 tonnes of rock had been supplied to the Port to build the 2.2-kilometre sea wall that will eventually reclaim the additional 62 hectares of land.
More than 70 port staff, rock supply and construction employees are involved in building the rock wall, and more than 10,000 project hours have been completed so far.
The Australian Government is contributing $75 million to the project as part of the Townsville City Deal, which will see the biggest improvement to the port in several decades.
Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey said construction of the sea wall was progressing quickly, putting the Port of Townsville and entire North Queensland economy on schedule to benefit from greater capacity and more opportunities for trade.
“With the first rocks laid in March this year, both the western and the eastern side walls already extend 550 metres into Cleveland Bay with the works progressing around the corner to build the northern wall,” Minister Bailey said.
“Close to 800,000 Queenslanders benefit from a strong Townsville Port. That’s why the Queensland Government has already contributed $75 million toward the project with Port of Townsville Limited funding the balance.”
Construction of the wall is expected to be completed early next year, with dredging to widen the channel beginning immediately thereafter. The dredge material will be used to reclaim the land area created by the wall.
The entire project remains on track to be finished by the end of 2023.
The Port of Townsville Channel Upgrade is a joint project of the Queensland and Australian governments and Port of Townsville Limited. The Channel Upgrade forms part of the Townsville City Deal signed in December 2016.