Northern Australia’s biggest commercial port has completed construction of a rock wall, concluding phase one of a plan to widen shipping channels and enable access for longer freighters.
The 2.2km rock wall, the largest infrastructure project in the history of Port of Townsville, Queensland, will form the centrepiece of an A$232m upgrade including a 62-hectare expansion of the port.
To achieve this, over the next two years 15km of surrounding channels will be dredged and the material recovered will fill the area behind the rock wall with the reclaimed land.
The Port of Townsville sits 1,360km north of Brisbane on Queensland's east coast, and currently has some of the narrowest shipping channels in Australia.
Mark Bailey, Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads, said upgrading the port’s channels would help increase freight traffic by admitting ships up to 300m-long instead of the current restriction of up to 238m.
Marissa Wise, Port of Townsville chief infrastructure officer, said seven local suppliers had provided 900,000 tonnes of rock to build the wall.
“It was a complex project that called on the marine construction expertise of designers, engineers, environmental experts and contractors working together,” Wise said.
“We have used a number of innovative design and construction techniques to ensure the rock wall withstands tidal action, storm surges, cyclones and rising sea levels.”
Meanwhile, Ports Australia has cautioned that Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee's plans to boost security at Australia’s ports should include considerations to keep supply chains moving.
In response to the latest public hearing on the Critical Infrastructure Bill review, the authority said it was vital to maintain a dialogue with policymakers so they understood how ports worked and could plan effectively.
It also called for clarity on who would be responsible for delivering port services such as security to ensure ground-level tenants would be able to make their own arrangements.
“Where Ports Australia was previously concerned by the proposed reforms’ lack of understanding of how our sector operates, we’re now encouraged by their appetite to... build that understanding so the reforms yield more pragmatic outcomes,” said the authority.
“It would be foolish to make a shopping centre... responsible for the security provisions at each and every store within their centre, just as it would be foolish to enforce the same rules on a port operator with a multitude of businesses operating within their boundaries.”