Brisbane: Meeting with the Port of Brisbane

25 11 2009

I was able to meet with Brad Kitchen, the Manager of Environment for the Port of Brisbane Corporation, Scott McKinnon, Senior Environmental Coordinator and Peter Boyle, Manager of Reclamation and Land Development. They gave me an expansive tour of the site as well as showed me presentations that explained the Port expansion and the environmental studies they have done.

Brad took me to 2 other sites that show the incredible work the Port is doing in several sites around Brisbane to move the Port businesses to the mouth of the Brisbane River so that old Port sites may be opened for landscape, parks, and mixed use development.

Brad first took me to Northshore Riverside Park. This development used to be industrial concrete apron that housed Port buildings and utilities. It has now been transformed into a park and cafe as a benchmark for future development, which the Port hopes will include commercial and residential activation along the water’s edge:










We then drove to the Port of Brisbane, where all of their buildings are rated Green Star buildings, a similar ranking to LEED. Here is a map of where we were:

The Port of Brisbane is a fast growth port in Australia’s fastest growing city. Its challenge was to provide world class infrastructure to ensure capacity for trade growth well into the future. The Future Port’s Expansion Seawall Project: to build a rockwall to enable the reclamation of 230 hectares of land was a major undertaking. With a unique set of challenges:

– for the Port, the need to maintain business as usual during a time of record trade growth.

– for the engineers, constructing a seawall on soft marine clays up to 30 meters deep with unknown settlement factors.

– and for all stakeholders, the need to minimize environmental impacts on a site extending into Moreton Bay.

An alliance approach with the shared values of innovation and continuous improvement was chosen to meet these challenges. The Partners: Port of Brisbane Corporation, Leighton Contractors, Coffey Geosciences, WBM Oceanics, and Parsons Brinckerhoff. This gave them the opportunity to innovate and come up with very good solutions and they were thrilled with the outcome that came in under budget and ahead of time.


The project involved construction of a 4.6 kilometer rockwall to enclose an area that will be progressively filled with material from river dredging and then built upon to expand the Port and its wharfs. The seawall is a rock structure placed on top of layers of geofabric and sand. Made up of 1.3 million tons of rock, 375,000 square meters of geofabric, and around 420,000 cubic meters of sand, the seawall was constructed at depths ranging from 6 meters to less than a meter. They faced challenges in finding the correct rock and the correct sizes as well as the right cleanliness for the seawall. Instead of relying on trucks to deliver rock to the site, the alliance railed rock from a nearby unused quarry. This quarry was able to supply rock with little dust, which meant that the need to costly environmental management actions such as silt curtains or washing the rock were not needed. The clean rock met the alliance’s strict environmental concerns and cut costs and construction time. The team designed customized containers to transport the rocks by train to the Port of Brisbane. The special containers were then transferred to modified trucks and then taken to the site. This avoided the need for double handling or stockpiling the rock. Here is Brad speaking about the seawall:

Since building the rockwall in 2004, they have noted increased marine activity along the wall.  They recently engaged a consultant (WBM) to undertake an ecological assessment of this habitat. The aim of the study was to form a baseline condition (5 years since construction), allowing them to benchmark the performance of this structure against artificial reef structures in this region.  Results to date are very pleasing. Scott gave me an incredible presentation on how they have monitored the growth of flora and fauna along the seawall. Here is Scott speaking about the seawall:

Brad also took me to a site near the Port where they needed to divert a river and build a drain. Instead of simply building a concrete drain, they have made a new kind of drain. Using gabion boxes and tubing to let mangroves grow through, Scott came up with an environmental way to deal with the slopes of the drain while allowing for maximum development:














I was deeply impressed by the Port’s dedication and commitment to making their campus one open to the public and sensitive to a range of environmental issues. Their visitor’s centre, cafe, and overall campus caters to the education of what a Port should be: An incredible organization at the forefront of Port design.

They gave me an abundance of great info – I will upload more soon…




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