CRA votes to approve pier engineer study

The Bradenton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency at its April 18 meeting unanimously approved an engineering study for the Historic Bridge Street Pier piling and decking replacement project.

The project calls for replacing 151 pilings, and includes replacing the pier’s aging top deck.

Building official Steve Gilbert was selected to work with the contractor to determine if the city would need a new study done, since an older one existed from a previous pier project.

“I contacted the contractor of record, walked the pier, looked at the pilings and we reviewed his notes from the original study he had done,” said Gilbert.

Two determining factors that would impact how the city would approach the project were types of materials to be used, and whether or not reconfiguring the pier for cost-saving measures would be necessary.

The city pier team has previously discussed using wood, concrete or composite materials. Gilbert solidified the choice after talking with the contractor.

“We discussed what type of pilings he would recommend and his initial reaction for a fishing pier was for a more flexible structure, so he will be recommending wooden pilings,” said Gilbert. “We have a pier that is subject to wave action. With wood pilings, even during severe wave events, it can give and move a little without coming apart.”

The project, funded through the CRA, was initially capped at $400,000. As a result, the team considered the possibility of reconfiguring the pier or temporarily removing the T-end of the pier to meet the budget.

With the announcement from the contractor recommending less costly wood pilings, and the possibility of more CRA funding becoming available, commissioners nonetheless expressed concern about having to reconfigure the pier.

Mayor John Shaughnessy asked if a reconfiguration of the pier — the removal of the T-end — would be necessary.

“It’s all up to the commission, and is why I’m suggesting we get this documentation in place before we go to bid,” said Gilbert. “Then it’s entirely up to the commission to either modify the shape or break (the project) into phases.”

Vice Mayor Ed Straight questioned what would happen to the old pilings. Gilbert said they would have to come out, but there may be a way for the city to save money in that process as well.

“We did have a suggestion to remove the old pilings and utilize them in, around and under the pier for habitat, if (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) lets us do that,” said Gilbert. “We’d be creating habitat and it would save money from having to haul those pilings away. Either way, I’d recommend we try to recycle those as best we can.”

Commissioner Ric Gatehouse moved to approve the engineering study. Commissioner Gay Breuler seconded the motion, which passed 5-0.

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