City prepared to sink millions into pontoon
By Alison Sandy
July 03, 2008 12:00am
BRISBANE'S controversial floating Riverwalk will remain a costly drain on the public purse for the next 100 years, a council audit has revealed.
The city's ratepayers already have forked out more than $17 million on the pontoon walkway that runs about 3km along the Brisbane River.
But $1.5 million is needed to prop it up for the next five years and a further $100,000 each year for general maintenance thereafter.
Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said the council was committed to spending whatever necessary to maintain the walkway.
"It appears it will be an ongoing financial burden on the ratepayer (but) we're committed to continuing to support it," Cr Newman said.
"It's a great initiative and we all love it."
Cr Newman also said the council would spend up to $2 million to extend the walkway from New Farm in Brisbane's inner north.
The pontoon links New Farm to the central business district and attracts more than 2500 people at the weekends.
The audit undertaken by the council's City Assets branch identified several issues, including the need for additional flotation under the gangways, continuing replacement of rubber pads and hinges, constant handrail maintenance and the tendency for broken wires.
"The structure is situated in a very hostile environment and the continual wave action, and movement of the pontoon/walers has already attributed to high wear and tear on these components and subsequently the repairs required to these joint locations," the report said.
"Maximising the life of the structure will require adequate funding for rehabilitation and continued regular maintenance."
It also identified potential long-term issues, particularly regarding the opening section near the Story Bridge, and recommended a review to minimise future costs and risks.
Infrastructure chairman Graham Quirk said the design, which was overseen by former lord mayor Jim Soorley's administration, was flawed.
"It's a great facility but it was a case where the design was rushed," Cr Quirk said.
"It was about getting this project up and finished in the lead-up to the 2004 election.
"It's doubled in price from the original estimate and has just continued to escalate."
Opposition Leader Shayne Sutton agreed the walkway should be maintained but denied it was rushed through, claiming construction and not design was at fault.