THE Bega District News was invited on a tour of the South East Regional Hospital construction site to mark the announcement the development application for stage two main works has been approved.
The BDN was taken on the tour by senior project director Michael Brooks from NSW Health Infrastructure and Chick Schorobura from Zauner Constructions.
The first thing you’ll notice after arriving on site – aside from the incredible amount of earthworks already complete – is the incredible number of rocks piled up in various spots around the site perimeter.
A quirk of the Bega Valley landscape, early works contractors have had to deal with countless tonnes of granite boulders interfering with earthmoving efforts.
Mr Schorobura says some individual boulders weigh upwards of 60-80 tonnes each.
Many will be replaced on site as part of landscaping efforts.
However, there are more than enough stockpiled to warrant other ideas on their re-use (Any suggestions? www.begadistrictnews.com.au).
Also an unusual sight are lamp-post-looking poles surrounding the trees still standing on the high side of the site.
They are in fact native animal habitat boxes, both on the top of tall poles and installed among the branches – for, possums, bats and so on.
Mr Brooks explains a significant number of studies have to be done as part of the project approval process, including studies on flora and fauna.
Another focus of study is Indigenous heritage.
“We had scouts on site and as the earth was being dug up they did find some artefacts,” Mr Brooks says.
As previously reported in the BDN, the idea is to potentially display some Indigenous artefacts found on site within the completed hospital to help share the story of the land’s and region’s history with patients and visitors.
As for the construction itself, the car park layouts and main thoroughfare are the most obvious developments.
Jutting off what will eventually become the main access road is a large flattened platform.
This is the hospital’s main entrance.
Visitors will arrive on the middle of three floors – one up, one down - but what will be immediately striking is the view from the entrance lobby out over the Bega River flats and Mumbulla Mountain.
It is the same “spectacular” view that will be enjoyed by patients in the wards.
A patient on the top floor, in the bed closest to the window, will have an unrivalled view hopefully making their hospital stay a little more bearable.
Mr Brooks says they will effectively be four-and-a-half-storeys up due to the shape of the landscape and will be “looking at a spectacular view”.
“This is going to be a facility the people of the Bega Valley are going to be really proud of,” he adds.
While the approval of the stage two main works DA announced on Monday is “the biggest achievement of recent months”, Mr Brooks says almost 410million has been spent on site already.
“It’s a significant piece of infrastructure just to get this far and a significant amount of money spent already.”
Try these for a few fascinating figures:
* 100,000 – the number of cubic metres of earth moved during early works so far;
* 29,000 – the “footprint” of the SERH in square metres;
* 60-80 – the number of workers and sub-contractors on site each day;
* 60-80 – the weight in tonnes of several of the large boulders removed from the building site; and
* 269 – the number of pilings being driven in for foundations, each up to 15 metres deep.
The phased nature of the work, with early works coming to a close as main works kick into gear has meant a couple of benefits.
Firstly it has allowed the project design team to “finesse” the final build details while early works got underway.
On top of that, it means there won’t be a quiet time on site.
While the sheer number of rocks needing to be dealt with caused some delays in the early earthmoving efforts, that is now done and dusted and pilings are already being drilled in in preparation for the building’s foundations.
The positive message to come from that is the project remains on track for an early 2016 completion.
“We’re pretty happy with the progress,” Mr Brooks says.
“We’re happy with Zauner as well,” he says as Mr Schorobura grins.
Mr Brooks says tenders for main works are currently being assessed and likely to be awarded prior to Christmas.
Work should begin early in 2014 with the hospital scheduled for completion in early 2016.