Closed since 2019, and partially closed for three years before that, the Jacksonville Beach Pier reopened July 5.
Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach leaders gathered on the rebuilt pier to cut the ribbon for the reopening of what Jacksonville Beach Mayor Christine Hoffman called a “symbol of beach life.”
“This pier is an iconic part of the beaches’ landscape. It’s what many of us think of when we imagine Jax Beach,” Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry told news media on the pier.
“Unfortunately, when Hurricanes Matthew and Irma rolled through, the pier was severely damaged and for safety purposes, we were forced to close for way too long,” he said.
About half of the pier took damage during Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and additional damage in 2017 from Hurricane Irma. It was partially closed at that time and fully closed when construction started in 2019.
“I think we’re going to find a stronger and better Jacksonville Beach pier as it reopens today,” Hoffman said.
According to Hoffman, Jacksonville Beach is doing a phased reopening. Pedestrians can access the pier for free as of July 6, and it will open reopen later to anglers.
Work on the pier store is being finalized, she said.
According to the city Public Affairs Office, the project cost about $11.6 million. That’s $1.8 million more than contractor Hal Jones quoted in its winning bid from September 2019.
When repair plans were announced nearly three years ago, the city hoped the job would take 18 months and planned to reopen the pier in May 2021.
In addition to slowdowns related to the pandemic, city officials said in a July 5 email that the pier repairs were held up by the state permitting process and finding and removing remnants of the collapsed pier that were buried in the sand.
Construction crews increased the 1,285-foot-long pier’s incline over the water by eight feet to combat higher storm surges, the city says.
“We took those lessons to heart when rebuilding. This new pier has been strengthened to better withstand future storms and continue to service our communities for decades to come,” Curry said.
The architectural engineer for the project was Reynolds, Smith and Hills Inc. and the contract administrator was England-Thims and Miller Inc.
Tom Goldsbury was the project engineer for the pier repairs and a rebuild nearly 17 years ago after it was leveled in September 1999 by Hurricane Floyd.
He said this pier is supported by four 24-inch piles instead of three 18-inch piles used on the last pier upgrade.
“You watch them drive in the piles with the big cranes, and how straight they kept it and how flat they kept it, they did an excellent job,” Goldsbury said.
“We think it’s going to be here a long time.”