The Challenge

Royal HaskoningDHV has been appointed as consulting engineer for the design of ferry wharves to be upgraded as part of the Sydney Commuter Wharf Upgrade program. The wharves upgrade has been designed to create a distinctive theme for Sydney Harbour. The design aims to unify and identify the harbour wharves and ferry commuter transport system. This involves the use of new steel pontoons and gangways at many of the sites, all designed to permit wheelchair access and provide shelter from the weather. 

A key issue identified was the effect of the marine environment on durability, and the requirement for a 50 year design life and minimising maintenance requirements. 

The Solution 

There was an emphasis on pre-fabrication of components including pre-cast concrete headstocks, precast deck planks and pre-fabrication of the entire gangway ramp and pontoon. All site deliveries were undertaken by water through floating barge cranes. 
The durability solutions include 

  • GFRP reinforcement in fixed concrete walkways
  • Stainless steel protective sleeves on piles
  • Sacrificial anodes at pontoon
  • Aluminum gangways
  • Zincalume roofing 

The Outcome

Commuter comfort is a key aspect of the design of the new wharves. Each wharf will feature improved waiting areas with increased size and provision of seating. A roof structure and glass panels will protect passengers from the sun and rain. A prime purpose of these upgrades is to make them suitable for use by disabled patrons. Many of the existing terminals have low level landings which cannot be used by patrons in wheelchairs. 
Improvements across all of the wharves include:

  • Safer facilities for people using mobility aids
  • Undercover seating for passengers
  • Improved weather protection

 The five latest terminals won the Master builders Association for public buildings Awards in 2016. 

The Judge's Comments were: 

"This very unique design-and-construct project comprised the demolition of existing wharf facilities and the concurrent construction of five new commuter ferry wharves across Sydney Harbour at Cremorne Point, Balmain East, Pyrmont Bay, Sydney Olympic Park and Meadowbank. 

Driven by ageing infrastructure and insufficient disability standards for accessible public transport, the builder developed solutions that significantly improved maritime safety, commuter safety and customer experience. Each wharf features a pontoon and 18m-long gangway, sized and oriented to accommodate site-specific maritime conditions. 

The design places commuters close to the ferry, minimising embarking and disembarking time and providing waiting areas with balanced protection from the elements.