10 May 2023

Public pressure prompts pontoon pivot

| Cape York Weekly
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THE Department of Transport and Main Roads will hold a public meeting in Weipa this week to discuss its plans to build a new pontoon at the Evans Landing boat ramp.

Following a line of questioning from Cape York Weekly, as well as pressure from the Weipa Town Authority, TMR will fly up one of its top men from Brisbane to discuss the plans with locals.

The state government sent out mixed messages last week, first stating that its new pontoon design had been created in consultation with local boat users.

It then conceded it was willing to discuss the options at a public forum. When Cape York Weekly went to press on Sunday night, no date had been set for the meeting.

Weipa Town Authority chairman Michael Rowland said it was premature to build a new pontoon without consulting the public and local boat users.

The Evans Landing boat ramp has been plagued with problems since it was built five years ago.

Designed without community consultation, it was clear to boat users that a lack of protection from the south-easterly winds would make the ramp and the existing pontoon unsafe for use.

The community has been at loggerheads with the state government ever since.

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said TMR did consult with locals.

“In preparing the tender, TMR reviewed and costed two wave-protecting site configurations,” the MP said in an email.

“These configurations were prepared by local Weipa boaties,” Ms Lui said.

“The new ramp’s design will include a floating breakwater system to protect the pontoon, with three sheltered berths, as well as two end berths usable in more favourable conditions.

“The pontoon should be in service in the first half of 2021.”

A TMR spokesman said even though the pontoon works were put up for tender, the final design was not locked in.

“We developed concept plans based on our own expert coastal engineering advice and input from the Weipa community, which was delivered through discussions with the Weipa Town Authority,” he said.

“These concept plans will guide interested tenderers in what we and the community expect from their final design submissions. The tender is for design and construction.

“We are determined to ensure the preferred design best meets community expectations and the project team will take on board community views.

“These community views will be sought at a meeting scheduled for this coming week at Weipa.

“The community will also have an opportunity for input into a proposed extension.”

Mr Rowland said he hoped the state government would do the right thing by locals.

“We don’t fund the boat ramp but we are the managers of the facility once it’s finished,” the WTA chairman said.

“Do it once and do it right and everyone will be happy with the end result.”

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