The Townsville Port Expansion Project (PEP) is nearing its practical beginning after its EIS (environmental impact statement) was approved late last year. The project's first stage, which will begin in the coming months of 2017, will see the widening of the channel from 92 metres to 180 metres at its narrowest point.
Currently ships of 238 metres or greater cannot access the port, however after the widening, ships of over 300 metres will be granted access.
The PEP consists of three stages, each roughly costing $500million.
They consist of: 1) Channel Widening; 2) Construction of 3 Berths and a Swing Basin; 3) Construction of two berths and the deepening of the channel.
The first stage will involve a 4 and a half year dredging operation by an excavator on a pontoon. The dig material from the seabed will be fed to a barge then to be moved to a contained area east of the port.
Due to the complex nature of the procedure, a full year will be required out of the 4 and a half years to allow for the area to prepare and receive all the capital dredge.
The project importance is substantial considering the exponential growth in the size of cruise vessels, along with the fact that since 1974 the Port's entrance was only half of the size of most other ports around Australia. It's widening has long been awaited.