Picnickers enjoy reopened pier

Alexander Sinn • Aug 18, 2018 at 9:00 AM

As storm clouds cleared Friday evening, picnickers gathered on the Grand Haven south pier to celebrate its reopening to the public.

Smooth concrete now extends to the lighthouse, with ramps to allow for bicycles, Rollerblades and wheelchairs to make the full journey.

“I’ve been coming out to Grand Haven every summer for 30 years,” said Ryan Krygier, who camps at the state park in the summer and uses a wheelchair. “This is the first time ever in my life I’ve been able to get to the end of the pier by my own power.”

The pier was reopened Friday afternoon after two years of a reconstruction project that smoothed out the many cracks and holes.

“There’s a lot to be said for smooth,” Grand Haven Mayor Geri McCaleb said as she strolled through the picnic. “I think about all the history, all the feet that made those lumps and bumps along the way.”

The catwalk, which extended the length of the pier, will be reinstalled next spring, McCaleb said, likely in April or May. The catwalk is being restored thanks to a community fundraising campaign to save the structure.

The total cost of the newly surfaced pier was around $3 million, McCaleb said. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who completed the project, advise caution as people begin to use the pier again. Water levels have risen since the pier was last open to the public, resulting in waves overtopping the structure more frequently. Slippery conditions can exist.

“The safety of all that use the Grand Haven pier is always a concern, especially because the structure has not had pedestrian traffic for a couple of years,” said Tom O’Bryan, Lake Michigan Area Office engineer for the corps. “I just want to remind all that it can be slippery when wet. Do not go out during high seas but enjoy from a distance.”

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