New delay to pier opening

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Pier awash: Waves crash over Mornington pier during strong winds on 6 May. Picture: Jai Just All Images

Pier awash: Waves crash over Mornington pier during strong winds on 6 May. Picture: Jai Just All Images

OPENING of the rebuilt outer section of Mornington pier has been delayed due to problems with the way wave screens have been attached to the seaward end of the structure.

Ten large concrete wave screens have been removed and are being reattached using a different, stronger system.

The wave screens are a crucial element to protect the harbour from storms. They have been installed on both sides of the pier to provide the best protection of the harbour since a pier was first constructed more than 150 years ago, however the harbour will still be vulnerable to big northerly storms.

A proposal by Mornington Yacht Club to build a wave wall running off at an angle from the pier’s end was rejected by the state government in 2012. It was part of a plan to build a private marina in the harbour.

Parks Victoria had hoped to open the pier last month. It is the second delay as bad weather last winter and spring also forced Parks to reschedule the projected opening date from last December to March this year.

Completion of the work had always been dependent to some extent on weather. Strong winds and rough seas last week did not help Parks Victoria contractor Johnson Constructions, which is using divers to attach wave screens.

A Parks Victoria spokeswoman said the pier’s completion had been delayed by the installation issue and other factors including unfavourable weather. “The Mornington Pier Reconstruction Project is expected to be completed in mid-June,” she said.

Work ceased for five weeks over the summer to enable residents and visitors to access the 53-metre middle section of the pier, which was rebuilt between August 2010 and September 2011.

Work laying timber decking on the concrete base is continuing. Other work done since the end of January has included installing handrails and a low landing.

Completion of the pier will be followed by renovation of the pier forecourt, which will include re-laying of the cobblestone area, services upgrades, and seating, lighting and historical information signs. This will not restrict public access to the pier, Parks said.

In May 2012 the Liberal-Nationals Coalition state government announced it would spend up to $15 million to replace the 120-metre outer section, which had been closed since 2010 after storms damaged pylons and dislodged top deck planks in April, August and September that year. The money was the lion’s share of the government’s $23 million for local port infrastructure upgrades. When completed, the government will have spent about $18.5 million on the pier since 2010. More than 250,000 people visit the pier ever year.

First published in the Mornington News – 19 May 2015

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