Pier deteriorates, feds say no to $1.5M fix

The pier along Lake Michigan in Grand Haven is deteriorating and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is urging people to be extra cautious.
May 15, 2012

The problem stems from a lack of funding and is expected to get worse.

The entrance to the pier has warning signs and a memorial with the faces of two young men, Dan Reiss and Andy Fox.

"I just went through Mother’s Day yesterday without my son. It has been 8 years, but it still hurts. I don't want anyone else to lose a loved one unnecessarily," says Vicki Cech, Andy's mother.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the tale of caution has never been more important because much of the pier is deteriorating.

"There's a lot of slipping or tripping hazards, cracks, little holes in the concrete," said Tom O'Bryan with the Lake Michigan Army Corp of Engineers.

There are additional safety measures on the pier. Every 100 feet is a life ring that is connected to the 911 Center. O'Bryan said the pier itself hasn't had a major repair since the 1950s because of a lack of funding.

"Obviously it’s hard to put a value on lives, but we have so many priorities across the nation for our federal tax dollars," O'Bryan said.

"I live it everyday. I want people to be safe and enjoy this beautiful pier and the water," Cech said.

City officials said if the pier is safely improved, they'd like to open tours to the lighthouse someday.

O'Bryan said there have been no serious injuries because of the poor condition of the pier. Fixing it would cost $1.5 million.



Jaques Strapp

Where does it say that the feds said no to fixing it? I just seen a cost and that is it.


It happened when the Army Corps of Engineers dude said that there are many priorities for our tax dollars across the nation, SO (we can conclude), we aren't getting money to do it.


Well being that the title of article says the Feds said no to fix. I think that pretty much takes care of that. Helps to read sometimes. ;)


Seriously??? Just because the "Government" isn't going to pay for it, doesn't mean that it can't get fixed. WHY do so many people think that the Feds have the last say? IF it needs to be fixed, fix it. Do a fundraiser. People in this community would come up with the money to repair the pier. Tie a fundraiser together with the Coast Guard Festival.


The GH south and north piers are entering a phase of rapid deterioration which will require much more than $1.5 million to correct as the 90 year-old cement cap slabs began to sink into the 120-130 year-old wooden substructure cribs below. Evidence of severe cap slippage can be seen. It is only a matter of a short time before we see an entire collapse of a cap, or group of caps. Hopefully, nobody will be on them when it happens.

The money for the recap scheduled in 2001 was cut do to 911 and rescheduled again for 2013, but that too, is unlikely. The only real concern of the federal government is that they provide a harbor entrance as the super structure is no longer necessary to maintain the navigational devices.

The piers were never designed as pedestrian walkways, but have always been used as such, even as the piers were being built. However, they were never really promoted and accessed as tourist destinations until the1980s with the construction of the Boardwalk, wheelchair/baby stroller access ramp and stanchion lights.

This whole pier promotion/ access concept was very poorly thought out. The Boardwalk itself is great, but it should arc out south to the beach and a beach walkway, instead out onto a dangerous and decaying navigational structure. They are just now coming to realize this and will have no choice but to make a significant alteration to the Boardwalk and start negotiating with the GHSP for a beach walkway.

People will always go out on the pier. Being a GH surfer since 1962, I know I will, but we should not make it a focal destination, especially for our tourists, who know very little of its hazards. Even long-time locals don't realize that 10 or the 20 people lost off those piers since 1925, died on perfectly calm days. Twenty may not seem like much to some. The real danger is serious injury. To appreciate this you need to go over to NOCH or the Corps of Engineers office and look into their injury files. It ain't pretty.



Of course the Fed's said no. Too much of our money is going overseas to take care of things here at home.


Maybe the township will put it up for the forth millage vote in aug.
then if it fails they can try to shove it down our throats again in nov
township residents need a pier just as much as bike path snow removal,
harbor transit,and a new 800,000 fire truck


If you looked just to the right of this column under "Similar stories" you would see that the Feds did OK 1.4 million dollars for dredging . Funny how eager to criticize the Feds without knowing all the facts and notice only what they want to notice.
I agree that this Community should be able to fund this work , it would take time but I feel this a generous community that recognizes the safety and the tourist benefits of these repairs.


The feds are never going to let the piers fall into the waters. But I think if both the north and south piers are to dangerous to be on... the correct measure is for the US Corps of Engineer to shut down total access to foot traffic to the piers. This sounds harsh.... but.. I think it will put an end to the issues of people tripping on the cracks and injuring themselves.... and also from people jumping off the piers. It will also cut down on the waste and abuse of public safety services for search and rescue efforts for the idiots who get washed off the piers or bang their heads during ruff and bad weather. The federal government owns this property and is responsible for its maintenance.

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