Ida Damages New $16M Fishing Pier on Alabama Coast

November 12, 2009

Alabama’s new state fishing pier, near Gulf Shores, which cost $16 million and is less than four months old, has been closed indefinitely because of damage from the first tropical storm to hit since it opened.

The director of Alabama’s state parks, Mark Easterwood, said the amount of damage was disappointing considering Ida was a relatively weak storm when it struck the coast early Tuesday.

The pier, which opened in July and is billed as the longest fishing pier on the Gulf of Mexico, replaced a shorter one that was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Officials said it could be reopened in sections, but it was unclear when anglers might be able to return.

The assistant superintendent of the state-run Gulf State Park, Trey Myers, said 109 of the new pier’s 5-foot-by-5-foot deck panels were moved anywhere from an inch to being entirely blown out by Ida. The panels are designed to move without causing major structural damage.

One of the panels, which weigh almost 400 pounds each, struck and broke a water main. Several sections of handrail were destroyed, and electrical wiring and lighting running underneath the pier were damaged, Myers said.

“From what we can tell, the panels were blown out when waves hit the pilings and the splash is what took them out,” Easterwood said. “All of the damage was out at the end of the pier, close to where the waves were breaking.”

An initial inspection did not reveal major structural damage, but engineers will look at the pier again after the gulf waters calm down.

Gov. Bob Riley cut the ribbon in July the 1,520-foot-long pier, which is almost twice as long as the state pier destroyed by Ivan.

The pier was nearly complete when Hurricane Gustav made landfall in Louisiana last year, damaging the structure and delaying its opening by months.

Information from: Press-Register,

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