Rye Pier Approach Reconstruction
Project stages and timing
Planning and design – Complete
Tender for construction – Complete
Work commences – early February 2022 (Pier closed February to Winter 2022)
Work completed - Winter 2022
*Check back here again soon for an update on start of work timing. Timing is estimated and may be subject to change.
Project partner and funding
Department of Transport
The Rye Pier work is part of the Victorian Government’s $24 million piers and jetties economic stimulus packages.
A section of Rye Pier, on Bunurong Sea Country, will be rebuilt as part of the Victorian Government’s construction blitz to create new jobs across Victoria and ensure the pier can remain open and safefor visitors to enjoy. The $24 million Piers and Jetties Economic Stimulus Packages support significant maintenance and safety upgrades to piers and jetties across Port Phillip and Western Port including Altona, Tooradin, Rye, Queenscliff South, Portarlington and Middle Brighton Piers.
Reconstruction of a 270-metre section of the pier inner approach walkway between the foreshore almost to the low landing, and widening the deck to 4.2 metres (1.2 metres wider than the current pier), will provide safer separation for pedestrians and vehicles and accommodate increasing visitation. A 600 millimetre lift in pier height at the rebuilt section will cater for future sea level rise. Using all timber materials, nearly 200 new piles and all new beams, crossheads, capping and decking will be installed to renew the structure while retaining its traditional character.
Other improvements will include construction of a ramp at the start of the pier and at the end, before the low landing, connecting with the varying levels to ensure continued all-abilities access. More energy efficient solar public lighting and steel handrails on both sides of the pier approach provide improved safety.
Priority upgrades to this section of pier will ensure access is maintained to the areas that will have the greatest benefit to the wider community for many years to come. Parks Victoria will continue to monitor the pier head condition to ensure community safety while future planning is undertaken. For now, inspections have determined the pier can remain open ahead of work commencing, but access may be restricted if conditions deteriorate and increase risks.
Rye Pier is located in the town of Rye on the Mornington Peninsula in southern Port Phillip. Rye Pier, originally built in 1860 and then completely reconstructed in 1993-94, is a popular destination for the local community and visitors. The pier is 360 metres long with an L shaped head. An accessible low landing was added on the eastern side in 2020, after the previous landing was damaged by storm and removed.
Today it is a popular sightseeing, fishing and swimming spot, featuring a low platform and seating for visitors. Rye Pier is an excellent day and night dive site offering beautiful underwater vistas and some of the warmest water in Port Phillip. There is a boat ramp nearby, a playground for the children and wide beaches for families to enjoy.
Although currently open for enjoyment, the pier is nearing the end of its design life and presenting signs of structural failure posing a risk to public safety. Engineering inspections identified several piles have failed which is compromising the load limits and structural integrity of the pier.
Funding has been committed by the Victorian Government under the $24 million Piers and Jetties Economic Stimulus Packages to make it safe, more durable and improve accessibility.
Access to the pier during works
Scheduling work to minimise impacts is a priority, however, people should be prepared for an extended disruption period.
A complete pier closure is necessary for about six months when construction commences. The closure will allow repairs to be done with minimal interruptions so that the pier can be reopened as quickly as possible and minimise further impacts to the community and marine life. Fencing and signage will be in place to communicate access restrictions.
Alternative berthing, angling and pier walking opportunities will be available at nearby piers such as Rosebud, Dromana, Sorrento and Portsea. The adjacent Rye Boat Ramp jetty also continues to provide short term berthing opportunities.
Protecting local marine life
Rye Pier is central to the beach and marine environmental amenity of the Mornington Peninsula on Bunurong Sea County. We know many incredible marine species rely on the artificial habitat provided by the pier, which is renowned as an ideal place to observe the Giant Spider Crab (Leptomithraxgaimardii) aggregation ahead of their annual Winter moult. This phenomenon, combined with the presence of many other incredible marine species from seasonal sightings of bottom feeding seahorses, stingrays, spider crabs and octopus through to a range of fish species, make it a popular dive location.
Consideration of the marine ecology data collected through citizen science initiatives and previous surveys, in addition to a new ecological study (Rye Pier Approach Reconstruction - retention of redundant piles as ecological habitat 2021 by CEE Pty Ltd) that was commissioned for this project has been used to consider the current marine life at the pier, important dive sites, impacts of pile removal and mitigation recommendations.
Using this information, Parks Victoria proposes to retain a selection of the redundant piles between the 200 and 270 metre section of pier where there are the greatest identified ecological values. This will be done by cutting off viable piles anywhere between 0.5 and 1.5metre above the seabed allowing marine biota attached to the existing piles to remain in their habitat with minimal disturbance and assist with recolonisation on the new piles over time.
The extent of piles to be retained is subject to a further visual assessment once construction commences. Any piles that are deemed unsafe will be removed or cut off at the seabed.
Although the old pile habitat will be reduced to some extent through this approach, most of the amount of habitat usually accessible to divers and marine naturalists will be retained. Importantly, the habitat provided by the pier will be increased with the installation of a similar number of new timber piles that will be colonised by marine biota over time. Mobile creatures, such as seahorses and other fish species, inhabiting the area will be able to swim away from any temporary disturbance and find protection in the outlying seabed or retained piles.
Completion of high impact work, such as piling, ahead of the anticipated annual Giant Spider Crab aggregation that generally occurs from May is planned to help minimise impacts on this natural phenomenon and the viewing opportunity Rye Pier traditionally provides at this time.
Frequently asked questions
Why hasn’t work to rebuild Rye Pier started yet?
Parks Victoria had anticipated being able to start construction work at Rye Pier in spring 2021, but work will now start after the summer school holidays from early February 2022 and is expected to be completed by Winter 2022, subject to timber availability and weather. A range of factors has influenced this decision including supply chain shortages, in particular timber supplies, keeping the pier open over peak summer and avoiding unnecessary costs required to suspend work over January for safety reasons, recognising the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 to local businesses and expected high visitation numbers with the easing of restrictions, and other safety considerations.
Why isn’t the entire pier being repaired through this funding program?
The funding available enables work to focus on the pier approach between the foreshore and the low landing. The priority is to ensure access is restored to the areas that will have the greatest benefit to the wider community. As part of Parks Victoria’s local ports management responsibility, it will continue to consider future planning for the entire pier precinct, including the pier head.
If the pier is in such poor is it safe to keep open during summer ahead of the work?
As the local port manager, Parks Victoria undertakes regular inspections of all piers and jetties it manages to ensure safe local port facilities. At times these inspections make recommendations to vary or restrict access for safety reasons. For now, inspections have determined the pier can remain open ahead of the work beginning, but access may be restricted if conditions deteriorate and increase risks. We recognise any change in access to this much-loved community asset ahead of work beginning would be disappointing to the community, however, public safety is the priority. We will continue to monitor the condition of the pier head, which is outside the current scope of work, while further planning is undertaken.
Why does the pier need to be closed for so long?
A complete pier closure is necessary when construction commences to ensure public safety. Once the deck boards are removed there is no safe way for pedestrians to access the pier. The closure will allow repairs to be done with minimal interruptions so that the pier can be reopened as quickly as possible and minimise disruptions to the community and marine life, and allows for anticipated delays caused by weather and timber availability.
What impact will the works have on the heritage values of the area?
Parks Victoria recognises the heritage character timber piers like Rye Pier provide and is committed to ensuring these values are preserved. While Rye Pier is not heritage-listed, adopting an all-timber reconstruction approach, including for the piles, crossheads, beams, decking and capping, will retain the 1990s character of the pier.
Can I still berth my boat or other vessel at the pier during the work?
No. All recreational berthing access will be prohibited while the pier is closed for works. Water access to the pier from other non-powered vessels, such as kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, will also be suspended for the duration of the pier closure. No part of the pier may be accessed from the water or land during its temporary closure, including the low landing. As is currently the case, vessels berthing will continue to be prohibited at the pier head. The adjacent Rye Boat Ramp jetty will also continue to provide for short-term berthing opportunities for fishing charter operators. Parks Victoria will work with commercial operators to identify alternative berthing locations at other sites.
Can I still fish from the pier during the work?
No. All access to the pier for angling and fishing will be temporarily prohibited while the pier is closed for works. No part of the pier may be accessed from the water or land during its closure, including the low landing.
Can I still swim / dive around / under the pier during the works?
Swimming, diving or snorkelling under the 270 metre section of pier undergoing works will be prohibited for public safety and an exclusion zone established. Diving under the pier head may continue provided access is from the shore or from a vessel away from the pier head, and care is taken whilst transiting around the works site exclusion zone. Divers must ensure they have a class A dive flag visible and ensure they do not enter the works area. Access onto the pier head and low landing will be temporarily suspended during the closure.
Will the raised height of the pier still be DDA accessible compliant?
Yes. A ramp will be constructed where the pier entrance meets the foreshore, and another installed at the end of the rebuilt section before the low landing to connect with the existing lower pier head and low landing. The two ramps will ensure continued all-abilities access to the varying levels of the pier.
How are these works being considered as part of the overall Rye foreshore redevelopment?
Parks Victoria is working with the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to ensure the improvements complement and integrate with the Rye Foreshore redevelopment currently being planned.
Parks Victoria is the local port manager for Port Phillip, Western Port and Port Campbell. The three local ports combined receive approximately 80 million visits a year, and include 263,000 hectares of waterway, marine protected areas, channels, piers and jetties, moorings and aids to navigation.
For further information or queries about this project email email@example.com or you can call us on 13 1963.
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Places to see – Rye Pier
Rye Foreshore - Rye Township Plan | Shape our Future
Rye Pier upgrades poster - download and display.