PORT of Townsville has awarded a $1.5-million contract for work that would enable widening of the inshore end of the port’s shipping channels.

The port engaged local contractor CivilPlus Constructions to shorten the Eastern Breakwater, making way for channel widening that would ultimately allow larger vessels to access the port from the end of 2024.

The works package is part of the port’s $251-million Channel Upgrade project. The project is the first stage of a 30-year port expansion project valued at $1.6 billion.

Port of Townsville general manager project delivery David McLoughlin said the port has spent $14.3 million with local businesses and one-third of the entire expenditure with small and medium-size businesses last financial year.

“CivilPlus is a Townsville-owned businesses, headed by two born and bred locals who have proven to deliver consistently high-quality results in marine projects for almost 20 years,” Mr McLoughlin said.

“Their team will be tasked with the removal of 10,000-cubic-metre of material to shorten the existing breakwater by approximately 70 metres and allow capital dredging to continue at the entry to the port’s inner harbour.”

CivilPlus will also place around 5000 tonnes of new armour rock on the shortened breakwater. Rock has been sourced locally from quarries in Townsville and Ravenswood.

CivilPlus Constructions senior project manager Steve Olsen said the project would support up to 15 full and part-time jobs for their local workforce.

“CivilPlus is excited to be part of the port’s Channel Upgrade project. As a local Townsville company this will support 10 full-time employees from within the Townsville area, along with up to five more part-time roles,” he said.

Shortening of the Eastern Breakwater is due to commence on 2 November 2023. Works will be conducted during daylight hours, Monday to Friday and are expected to take approximately 10 weeks.

Port of Townsville said there would be no disruption to shipping during this time.