Victoria’s channel deepening on time and within budget

Victoria's channel deepening on time and within budget

Sunday, June 21 2009, marked the 500th day of operation of the Channel Deepening Project for Port Phillip Bay, which the Port Of Melbourne Corporation (PoMC) has described as Victoria’s largest marine infrastructure project and the biggest and most complex in the Port’s 150-year history.

The PoMC said dredging operations as part of the project began on February 8, 2008, and to date, some 19 million cubic metres of sand and silt have been removed which equates to approximately 83 per cent of the total amount to be dredged.

The project, it said, remains within budget and on schedule for major dredging in Port Phillip Bay to be completed by August 31.

Acknowledging the 500th day milestone, Stephen Bradford, CEO of PoMC, said the solid progress of the project was testimony to the extensive planning and development phase by the alliance with The Netherlands?based dredging company, Royal Boskalis Westminster, and to the volume of unprecedented environmental research undertaken prior to the CDP starting.

“We are pleased with the progress of the project to date. With the majority of the works completed we are on schedule, within budget and well on course to delivering this project within full compliance of environmental limits,” Bradford said.

“Works have been carried out with minimal disruption to users of the Bay and we have seen no evidence to suggest dredging has impacted on its ecological health. From all accounts, the beaches are in good shape and there have been no significant effects on tides, currents and marine life.

“This is all in line with the years of scientific research we carried out prior to the project starting,” said Bradford, who added that PoMC would remain vigilant and continue to operate with a high level of diligence. “Clearly there is still work to do and we are focused on ensuring that we continue to meet the obligations set out in the project’s rule book — the Environmental Management Plan.”

Works involving minor dredging in the Yarra River as well as works on navigation aids, berths and services protection are scheduled for completion by year’s end, said PoMC.

It is understood the channel deepening will modify the shipping channels to enable access for ships of up to 14m draught in all tidal conditions in the Bay and Yarra River. Currently, PoMC said the maximum draught is 11.6m without tidal assistance, and that the most recent March quarter saw approximately 60 per cent of container vessels having draught of greater than 11.6m.

“This project will allow more ships now using the Port to utilise their full draught as well as to facilitate an incremental increase in the size of ships entering the Port,” said Bradford.

Photos: Channel deepening dredge, the Queen Of The Netherlands; Port Phillip Bay.