29 May 2017

Wide load alert for $193m Port expansion in Townsville


Image: Entrance to Port of Townsville.
Photo: Port of Townsville Annual Report

The first stage of the planned $1.64 billion Townsville Port expansion has been submitted to the State Government for environmental approvals, releasing $193m of economic impact on the City and creating a wide load alert in the Northern Australian port.

Ships the size of three football fields will be able to access the Port when stage one of the expansion project is completed, increasing the existing capacity of ships from 238 metres in length to 300 metres.

The width of the ships will increase also from 32 metres to 40 metres. The channel will be widened from 92 metres at its narrowest point to 180 metres.

The waste from the dredging needed for the expansion will be carried out in accordance with strict environmental requirements. No capital dredge material will be dumped at sea. The material will all be placed in a fully contained area at the Port.

The project is anticipated to cause over 8000 trucks to be taken off the roads and highways cutting carbon emissions and making the roads safer for passenger vehicles.

The project has been in the planning for 10 years. When the business case that has been submitted to the Treasurer Curtis Pitt and Ports Minister Mark Bailey for consideration has been environmentally and operationally approved, the widening project is expected to take 4 1/2 years to complete. This includes one year to set up of the bunded area for the dredge material and 3 1/2 years for the actual dredging. 

Eighty percent of the works will occur at the harbour entrance, adjacent to Platypus channel, and the remaining 20 percent of works will occur in the sea channel. An independent Scientific Oversight Panel will monitor the works with the authority to stop works if the impacts are deemed inaccessible at any time.

Widening the port is essential to bring it up to standard with other capital city ports because ships have gotten bigger over the past 40 years and they cannot fit into Townsville's narrow channel. 

Shipping companies are bypassing Townsville to capital city ports but will gladly steam in and out of Townsville if they can safely navigate their ships through the Port.

If the billion dollar Port expansion had not been considered for the expansion, freight costs for local businesses from capital cities 1300 kilometres away will continue to increase, while passenger cruise ships business opportunities will be missed.

Port of Townsville chief executive officer Ranee Crosby's commented to the Townsville Bulletin where she said "That means over time, less commercial ships and cruise ships will be able to access our port, stifling trade opportunities and potentially putting an end to the boom we are seeing in cruise ship visits to Townsville over the next 10 years".

The project is expected to generate 120 new full-time equivalent jobs in Townsville during construction.

TREN identified that Industry Space in the City is critical to a smart city future and the Port as a heavy industry player in the Townsville property market and its economy is a critical strategic asset to the City.

The expansion of the Port and the increased capacity for trade is a positive announcement by the Port of Townsville.