THE $193m port upgrade at Townsville is underway with the first rocks laid this month for a new protective wall.

Construction is progressing on the 2.2km protective rock wall, which is set to pave the way for up to six new berths.

Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said the upgrade would be the port’s largest expansion.

“It means cruise and commercial vessels up to 300 metres in length will be able to safely access the Port of Townsville,” Mr Tudge said.

“It’s a massive change that will generate jobs and boost the local economy.”

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Queensland Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the upgrade would provide a significant boost for the North Queensland economy.

“This is the biggest change to the port in almost 30 years and is one that will support jobs in Townsville for decades to come,” Ms Trad said.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the Townsville is the gateway for projects as far away as Mount Isa and the investment would benefit the entire North Queensland economy.

“We’ve seen trade at the port increase 4.7% with 7.68 million tonnes of freight going through its gates, alongside 16 cruise ships visited the city bringing with them 20,000 visitors,” Mr Bailey said.

“It’s why the Queensland government is investing in a $193 million upgrade of the port channel, $40 million Berth 4 upgrade and $48 million intermodal facility.”

Port of Townsville CEO Ranee Crosby said they were “immensely proud of the more than 70 Port staff, contractors and specialist advisors that have made this happen”.

“This rock wall construction is the first major change to the Port’s physical footprint in almost three decades,” Ms Crosby said.

The Townsville Channel Upgrade is a joint project of the Queensland and Australian governments, and Port of Townsville. The Channel Upgrade forms part of the Townsville City Deal signed in December 2016.

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