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Finish line nears for south pier repair project

Alex Doty • Jul 30, 2018 at 12:00 PM

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ south pier repair project wasn’t completed in time for this week’s Coast Guard Festival, but the finish line is in sight.

According to Corps of Engineers Area Engineer Tom O’Bryan, the pier project could be wrapped up as soon as September.

“So far this year, we’ve had very few of those bad days,” O’Bryan said. “It has been really helpful in getting this project accomplished.”

Work on the project began in the fall of 2016 when the catwalk was removed from the pier and marine contractors began work on the first segment, from the shore to the inner lighthouse. 

The first segment of work was finished in 2017 and the pier was temporarily reopened. The second segment of work from the inner to outer lighthouse began this past spring.

Once the pier repair project is finished, the catwalk can be put back on the structure.

“We are on somewhat of a tandem bike with the Army Corps,” said Erin Turrell, who led the Save the Catwalk campaign. “The catwalk can’t get put back up until that project is finished.”

Turrell noted that progress is being made in the fabrication process for new “bents” — the arched structures that make up the catwalk. The bents are being manufactured at a facility in Greenville.

Turrell noted that the new bents should be completed by the fall so that they can be reinstalled on the pier in spring 2019.

“This is a work in motion,” she said. “Unfortunately, you can’t snap your fingers and have it all done. I would like that, but that’s not going to happen.”

By the time of the 2019 Coast Guard Festival, the pier and catwalk will be back to normal, noted Turrell.

“Everything will be back the way it is supposed to be,” she said. “It’s been a long three years’ worth of work, and the payoff is going to be wonderful when we finally cut that ribbon. Even though people are getting used to it not being on there, I think everybody is excited to have the entrance to our harbor have the iconic structure on it that we need, and want.”

Although the campaign has long since reached its fundraising goal, Turrell noted that work is still ongoing to build an endowment fund to help pay for the catwalk’s maintenance and repairs.

“The community would not have to go through this large effort to raise money to fix it again,” Turrell said of the endowment.

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