JANUARY 15 2017 – 12:21PM
Work will begin this year on transforming Queensland’s “largest sandpit” at Brisbane Airport into the newest gateway to Australia – a facility with the same capacity as busy Singapore Airport.
The sandy area – more than eight metres deep in some places and three kilometres long – will become Brisbane’s $1.4 billion new parallel runway by September 2020.
The weight of the 11 million cubic metres of sand has already acted like a giant sponge drawing out water for the past two years.
“Parts of this site have settled almost three metres,” Brisbane’s New Parallel Runway project director Paul Coughlan said.
“The water loss and settlement has slowed dramatically so that is why we are now ready to begin construction, because what is called your ‘primary settlement’ has occurred,” he said.
The runway will mean the number of landings and departures from Brisbane Airport will increase from 227,000 flights a year to 360,000 by 2035 and up to half a million flights a year by 2045.
The first of three new projects to begin this year is a major underpass behind the Domestic Terminal allowing for road traffic to pass underneath and aircraft to cross between the old and new runways.
The $120 million Drynadra Road’s winning tender is expected to be announced within weeks and construction will begin in March 2017. Preparation work is already underway.
By mid-year the second major contract – a $750 million contract to begin building the actual pavement of the new runway – will begin to shape sand into runways.
A $10 million project to build a metre-high new seawall to fight rising tides and storm surges will also begin.
“So 2017 is the start of the really exciting construction of all of the final works for our runway system is about to begin,” Paul Coughlan said.
“The government in the 1980s was planning for parallel runways at the airport and now the Brisbane Airport Corporation is finally delivering that 30-year vision,” he said.
Even though right now it still looks like a huge sand bunker.
The cost of the $1.4 billion project is being met by Brisbane Airport Corporation (75 per cent) and by plane customers (25 per cent) who pay between an extra 35 cents to $1.35 cents on their tickets.
The world’s largest airlines who pay to use Brisbane Airport – including Qantas and Virgin – are not directly paying for the new runway. They passed the cost on to their customers in small ticket price increases, Mr Coughlan said.
Brisbane Airport Corporation has however already spent more than $550 million on the design, the drainage systems, the exporting of sand from Moreton Bay and the sand compaction.
Effectively they have had to rebuild a new Kedron Brook Floodway drain.
“If you looked at this site before we reclaimed it, it was all just tidal creeks, so you had water from the airport than just ran out into tidal creeks,” Mr Coughlan said.
“And so because we were going to reclaim (the tidal creeks) we had to create a new drainage system.”
He said there were no environmental problems identified, though the project team had a large team of consultants monitoring water flow into the new water channels.
Around half the sand will now progressively be moved to two new areas – near the existing domestic terminal apron and also, opposite the domestic airport.
Here, opposite the existing domestic terminal a new terminal will be built at Brisbane Airport in around 20 years.
Source : Brisbane Times