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Torres Shire Council - To lead, provide & facilitate FUNDING ASSISTANCE HORN ISLAND AIRPORT RUNWAYS HORN ISLAND AIRPORT TORRES STRAIT FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND SUMMARY Horn Island Airport, owned and operated by Torres Shire Council, Torres Strait, Far North Queensland, needs urgent funding to enable main runway, minor runway (part) and parking & transit area to be strengthened to overcome surface damage with asphalt overlay. Estimated funding required is approx. $3.0 million. CURRENT SITUATION The Horn Island Airport plays a vital role as the primary regional transport hub and stepping stone for aircraft movements not only to the 15 populated outer Torres Strait Islands but to Papua and West Papua as well as the Indonesian Archipelago. Being the port of disembarkation for aircraft movements from Cairns, the airport services the following Northern Peninsula Area (N.P.A), Torres Strait Island Communities between Bamaga and Daru, Papua New Guinea. The following Australian airports are serviced from Horn Island. 1. Badu 7. Poruma 2. Bamaga 8. Boigu 3. Kubin 9. Saibai 4. Mabuiag 10. York 5. Murray 11. Warraber 6. Darnley 12. Yam Merauke Daru HORN ISLAND Thursday Island is the government administrative hub for the region and has over 36 federal and state offices located on it with a further 40-45 offices within the Torres Strait. These include essential services such as Police (Federal & State), Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Dept of Defence, Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, Dept of Immigration, Queensland Health and Queensland Fire Service. The transportation of government officers to maintain these services account for more than 65% of passengers. There are no other feasible passenger transport systems, such as road, rail or sea, between our nearest metropolitan city (Cairns located 1,000kms away) and the Torres Strait. Air transport is the only practical connection with the Australian mainland. OPERATIONAL INFORMATION The aerodrome operator and licensee is the Chief Executive Officer, Torres Shire Council. The aerodrome is licensed and maintained as a "Licensed International Aerodrome" and consists of two sealed runways 1. RWY08/26 (Length: 1389 x Width: 30 metres) and 2. RWY14/32 (Length: 1235 x Width: 23 metres). RWY08/26 is equipped with runway lights and PAPI (Pilot Activated Path Indicator). DAMAGE TO AIRPORT A report from SKM (Sinclair Knight Merz Consulting Engineers) has revealed serious damage to the pavement to the degree that the risk assessment carrying on with the Q400 aircraft revealed a Medium to High risk; possibly that further damage may cause a crash or serious incident. This degree of risk is unacceptable to currently sustain continuous use of the Airport runway. The report revealed that rutting has occurred on the main runway from the western end 08-26 to the intersection of 14- 32 which is used as the taxi way for the larger aircraft including the Q300 and Q400. TYPICAL CROSS SECTION 08-26 RUNWAY CH 1000-3290 NTS RUNWAY DAMAGE Taxiway from Runway 14-32. Rutting has occurred in several locations. Runway 08-26. Rutting from intersection to holding point Runway 08-26. RUNWAY DAMAGE Runway 08-26 RHS. Serious depressions caused by rutting hold water which owing to the pavement cracking can enter the sub base. Threshold 08-26. Seal delaminating from pavement. RUNWAY DAMAGE Runway 08-26 LHS as detailed previously. Rutting continuous through to Threshold 08-26. Threshold Runway 08-26 Rutting continuous from 08 to intersection of 14-32 RUNWAY DAMAGE Runway 08-26 – LHS Emulsion has been sprayed from 08-26 to intersection 14-32. This is only a temporary measure to preserve the pavement and sub base. Runway 08-26 – RHS Details as above. AIRPORT RUNWAY 14.32 - RECENT FLOODING This runway section below requires future elevation and relaying of sub-grade and pavement. CONSULTANT’S ENGAGEMENT Sinclair Knight Mertz (SKM) have been employed to look at the following and report back: Detailed Geotechnical investigation of both runways and Apron Area. A Scope of Works to - Strengthen Runway 08-26 - Strengthen Part Runway 14-32 which is taxiway to 08-26 - Strengthen Apron (Parking and Transit Area) Estimate for all of the above, including both length proposals. ESTIMATE OF COSTS PREFERRED OPTION 20 years life. Two layers of asphalt over length of full runway, minor runway (part), parking & transit area. Must be used to enable the airport to be kept open by utilising Displaced Thresholds. Will provide a safe and non restrictive runway which will not require any major upgrade expenditure for the next 20 years. SUMMARY OF FUNDING POSSIBILITIES Department or Agency Approved Amount Possible Further Action Queensland Transport $2.0 million TSC lobby for additional grant funding Torres Strait Regional Authority $400 K TSC lobby for additional grant funding Federal Govt. election promise (RASP $680 K TSC, TSIRC, NPARC and TSRA lobby program) Federal government for additional grant funding RLCIP $250 M – First round funding $100 K (Regional & Local Community Infrastructure Program) Torres Shire Council $260 K -Reserve Allocation Torres Shire Council Loan $1.0 million TSC increase loan borrowing, but there is limitation due to small rates base TOTAL $4.4 million Less Estimated Costs $7.0 million (to be confirmed) SHORTFALL Approx. $2.6 million HEAD PASSENGER TAX In its 2009/10 Budget, Council increased the passenger head tax by $5.60 to $25.00 per head with CPI increases to be applied in subsequent years. With approx. 70,000 Qantaslink passengers per year, a total of $300, 000 from 1st October 2009 would be available to be initially allocated towards this project and then a determined amount be applied towards loan repayments in following years. The airport administration process does not enable the local domestic passengers total to be monitored with a view to charging a head tax; as all other flight operations are charter work. The low socio-economic base of the Torres Strait must be taken into account when Council and the community’s ability to fund such an expensive project is analysed. DEFENCE MEMORIAL PROJECT Council considers that Horn Island airport’s historic significance in the defence of Northern Australia during WW2 presents an excellent case for the Airport being dedicated as a Defence Memorial which would commemorate a war effort that should be recognised and made known to all Australians and overseas visitors. Horn Island was bombed 8 times (with over 500 bombs being dropped) between 1942 and 1943. This airport was also used for reconnaissance until the end of 1944. LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMITMENTS TO COMMUNITY The long overdue but necessary airport runway upgrade and extension works will provide the Torres Strait / NPA Region with a safe air service in larger and faster planes which are required to allow this region to maintain a similar transport mode which is provided for the rest of Australia, as well as ensuring long term continuation of services and provision of anticipated regional growth The main reasons for regional and community air transport include: * Freight * Health * Government * Tourism * Economic Development * Schooling * Personal * Essential Services * Mail * Employment / Training REGIONAL SIGNIFICANCE Horn Island Airport is a vital regional airport in a vast area of 49,000 square kilometres and is absolutely essential for modern day transportation within the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area (Cape York) region. The main mode of transport is by regional and local aircraft. It must be emphasised that the small islands are separated by large distances of ocean. Other than the mainly slow and dangerous boat travel, air is the only effective and efficient transport service. A modern airport is vital to enable the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area to access essential government and commercial services and to continue to function as a developing and international border region. The strategic location of the airport enables the region to host and launch new knowledge, incentives and initiatives for the continuing growth and development of the Torres Strait and neighbouring South East Asian and South Pacific partners. PROJECT SUPPORT Torres Shire Council seeks your earnest consideration of providing funding to enable this most important upgrade/extension project to proceed. Council looks forward to discussing all aspects of this project with you; with a view to initiating a funding partnership. Council urges your support to lobby your relevant State and Federal ministers and departments to ensure that this imperative project comes to fruition within the shortest possible timeframe. OTHER RELEVANT POINTS Torres Shire, with a small population of 4,000 residents, is unfortunately in a precarious financial position to entirely fund a $7.0 million project of this magnitude. A similar runway damage situation has occurred in other regional airports. One particular airport which has over 10 times this Shire’s population has overcome its problem through finance due to being a vibrant mining, industrial, service and tourist centre. With the current erratic weather patterns caused through climate change; sea levels, cyclones and other natural disasters are significantly on the rise. In the case of a major disaster in the Torres Strait region and Western Province of Papua New Guinea, Horn Island would be the launching pad of emergency relief services. Mayor Pedro Stephen states: “The airways are our highways; our only feasible access to the outside world. It must be emphasized that the small Torres Strait islands are separated by large distances of ocean. To continue to function as a developing and international border region, Horn Island Airport is vital to enable the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area to be serviced by essential government and commercial services that are required for proper functioning of the region. Council strongly believes that the funding of this essential airport project would be a perfect example of the Federal Government demonstrating how the “Close the Gap” aspiration for indigenous people could be achieved in the Torres Strait region.” TORRES SHIRE COUNCIL MISSION STATEMENT Torres Shire Council through community consultation, will focus on the promotion of community values, together with the improvement of the quality of lifestyle whilst ensuring efficiency of servicing and protection of the environment.
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