What are the stairs made from?
The stairs are made of fibre reinforced plastic. This is stronger than steel and will require little, if any, maintenance. They will not rust and not be affected by salt water. The fact that they are plastic does not impact on the size of the structure. A steel structure would also need to be as robust.
Why does the structure have to be so tall?
The stairs were not permitted to impact on the integrity of the breakwater and thus could not be anchored or rest on the breakwater. The breakwater is designed to move with the impact of the waves. It is a movable structure which protects this section of coast. The stairs thus needed to go up and over and could only be mounted at the top and at the base of the breakwater. The stairs also had to miss the sand by-pass pipe which is buried close to the top of the breakwater. Thus the stairs are designed in a similar manner to a bridge which spans a large distance. To ensure strength in the stairs, structural and marine engineers were consulted about their location and design.
Why does it need to be so bulky?
The bulk is due to the distance the stairs need to span. They have been located directly opposite some public open space and are partly hidden by the shelter and the existing large tree. The City will consider installing some more plants at the base to soften the look - although this may affect the view.
Why was the structure not a simple set of steps set into the rocks that everyone can use?
Everyone can still use these stairs. At times you may be stepping into sand or shallow water depending on tides, wind and wave action and erosion. As detailed above the breakwater could not be impacted by the stairs. We initially sought to cut stairs into the breakwater but marine and coastal engineers suggested this wouldn’t be a good idea. Given sea level rise and increased storm intensity due to climate change, reducing the integrity of the breakwater may have put property at risk in the longer term.
There are plans to construct stairs at the southern end of the breakwater to allow direct access to Coogee Beach. We have been given permission to cut these into the breakwater in this location as this is not an area that is impacted by storm events. The attached photo shows the location.
Are more stairs planned?
When funds are available stairs will be constructed at the southern end of Socrates Parade to allow access to Coogee Beach.
The City has been given permission to cut these into the breakwater in this location as this is not an area that is impacted by storms. Photo 1 shows the location.
Was there any public consultation regarding the stairs?
The City received many requests from local residents, including some on Socrates Parade, for stairs to be constructed.
In the six months leading up to the installation of the stairs in May 2017, the City has notified residents with mailouts, and pictures of the design on the City's website since December 2016.
Why install these steps, given that the dive trail and the diving community are a small percentage of the population?
The stairs were installed to allow safe access to the dive trail and will be used by many, many people over a long period of time. The focus has been on safety for those accessing the dive trail and minimising the maintenance of such structures located within the marine environment.
Will a shower be erected here so everyone can wash off the sand and salt?
Showers have been suggested for a location slightly further north when this area is landscaped. If there are sufficient requests for showers near the stairs, they may be funded in the future.
Why do the stairs go straight into the ocean?
The stairs are located at the start of the dive trail directly opposite the Omeo wreck. They provide safe access for divers and snorkelers using the trail. School groups from as far away as Kalamunda are using the dive trail for educational purposes. Without stairs, divers carrying heavy scuba tanks and others including school children carrying snorkel gear were clambering over the breakwater rather than walking along the beach from the northern end of Coogee Beach, posing a potential safety risk. This part of the breakwater is subject to tides, wind and waves and excessive erosion. At times there will be sand at the base of the stairs, at other times there will be shallow water. Note that erosion is so severe in this location that more than 25,000 tonnes of sand needs to be transferred from the northern section of Port Coogee to the south every two or three years, hence the sand bypass pipe. Sand was transferred most recently in August 2016. This will disappear during winter storms. If the stairs were located further south it would be unlikely that those accessing the dive trail would use them and thus it would defeat the purpose of the stairs providing safe access to the trail.
Will the steel at the base of the stairs be removed?
Yes, when tides permit. This is a temporary coffer dam that was constructed to keep water out while the footings for the stairs were poured.