Dredging ship the Nile River passes Caloundra ahead of starting work on the Sunshine Coast Airport expansion project.
Dredging ship the Nile River passes Caloundra ahead of starting work on the Sunshine Coast Airport expansion project. Contributed

Costly runway site delays hold up dredging start

DELAYS at a major Coast construction project are hitting a contractor in the hip pocket as it scrambles to get a site ready for the next stage of work.

John Holland Group is this week finalising installation of plastic lining at Sunshine Coast Airport's new runway project so it can accept the first load of sand dredged from Moreton Bay.

That load had previously been scheduled to arrive about July 10.

The lining is to prevent saltwater that arrives with the dredged sand from penetrating into groundwater, instead diverting it into the Maroochy River.

Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion project director Ross Ullman said the dredge Nile River was anchored in Moreton Bay awaiting confirmation the site was ready to take the first load.


The ship arrived in Brisbane from Singapore on July 19 and has since completed testing to prove its capability.

Meanwhile, Mr Ullman said an area of the runway site about 500m long and 300m wide needed to be covered with durable plastic.

He said more than 90 per cent of that work had been done.

But he said weather had made the last section very difficult to complete.

"That is problematic when everything is wet," Mr Ullman said.

He said wet weather delays were a part of the contractor's risk.

Mr Ullman said he was unsure what the delay would be costing John Holland Group but knew it was "considerable".

"They've been working around the clock, 24/7."

He said, for example, if the delay had been caused by his team, the cost would be in the order of $300,000 a day.

The site is expected to be ready for its first load of sand by the end of the week.

Mr Ullman said the contractor was still confident of being able to move the 1.5 million cubic metres of sand it required onto the site before the turtle nesting season cut-off of November 1.

A John Holland Group spokeswoman said the company was on track to pump all the sand required for the project ahead of the November 1 turtle-nesting season deadline and the project was on schedule for a 2020 completion.

"Recent wet weather has slowed progress for the completion of the sand receiving area," the spokeswoman said.

"The dredging vessel has cleared quarantine and will start work once this area is prepared."