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By Dan Stewart
August 14, 2017
International airports across Australia land millions of visitors every month as tourism continues to increase, fuelling economic growth. Forecasts from Brisbane Airport suggest that annual passenger air traffic to the Queensland capital will grow from 22.7 million in 2017 to almost 50 million in 2035, more than doubling in just 18 years.
In preparation for this influx of visitors, Brisbane Airport has begun construction of the biggest aviation project in Australia. The project involves the construction of a new 3.3km, $1.35 billion runway system being built over 360 hectares of marshland 2km from the old runway system.
Phase two of the construction process is already well underway after the completion of phase one in 2015. Phase one involved pumping 11 million cubic metres of sand through 8kms of piping, solidifying what was previously a river delta.
On account of the scale of the project, it is estimated that around 2,700 construction jobs will be created to build the 3,300m runway which includes; 330,000 wick drains, 12km of 25m wide taxiways, airfield infrastructure, navigational aids and hundreds of hectares of landscaping.
The $500 million construction contract to build the new runway was awarded to Skyway JV, comprising BMD Constructions and CPB Contractors. Julieanne Alroe, the Chief Executive Officer of Brisbane Airport Corporation is confident about the investment, stating that, “given the long history of this project which had its earliest planning stages in the 1970s, it is a significant milestone to announce today the successful contractor for the largest, final and most expensive package of works to bring Brisbane’s new runway to life.” (Brisbane Times)
Phase two of construction of the nation-leading runway system involves three major factors. Brisbane Airport summary of the construction timeline provides a detailed explanation.
The first factor of construction, having already been completed, was the erection of a new sea wall and site access point. This involved updating what was previously a dump rock wall protecting the work site from the Moreton Bay foreshore.
The second piece of work, which is currently underway, involves the construction of a four-lane underpass for vehicular traffic, designed to withstand weights of 710 tonnes. Another piece of road, measuring 1,100 metres will also be built, connecting air and land transport between both north and south runways.
Finally, the largest portion of the project will be the construction of the main airport works. This includes various projects: hauling approximately 4.5 million cubic metres of sand after settling; completing the 3,300m by 60m runway; laying 12kms of 25m wide taxiway roadwork; installing all airfield infrastructure including lighting, utilities, signage, operational roads, airfield drainage and landscaping, navigational aids, security fencing and control systems; initiating and conducting full flight testing and protocols; and commencing complete operations in 2020.
Overall, the new runway is set to deliver a regional annual economic benefit of around $5 billion by 2035 and create 7,800 jobs in the Brisbane/Moreton region due to the additional capacity. The Brisbane Airport’s capability will match that of Hong Kong and Singapore with tourism through the airport contributing $7.6 billion to the Australian economy by 2033 and annual flights reaching over 360,000.
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