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FEMA likely to help with BB day dock

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

Precautions were being taken during Tropical Storm Isaac to make sure boats don’t crash into the Historic Bridge Street Pier. Islander Photo: Mark Young

After more than two months of being closed, the Bradenton Beach day dock, which allows boats to dock passengers adjacent to the Historic Bridge Street Pier, may get the needed repairs to reopen.

Bradenton Beach Police Department Lt. John Cosby announced Aug. 24 that the city is receiving cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on plans for repair.

FEMA already has approved 75 percent of funding for the city to repair a seawall at 12th Street South and the dingy dock across from the BridgeTender Restaurant on Bridge Street. FEMA determined TS Debby damaged both.

Cosby said the hold up with the day dock has been the city’s plans to reduce the size of the dock. FEMA grants are only applicable when an organization’s plans are to return a structure back to its original form.

But the city has hesitated in replacing a dock that has a design flaw related to the hinges that hold the sections of the dock together. Discussion has taken place for weeks to reduce the size of the dock to keep costs down, and to fix the design flaw to prevent future problems.

“The bid we’ve received to repair the dock is $120,000 and the bid to replace the dock is $264,000,” said Cosby. “FEMA is saying they are willing to do 75 percent of the $120,000 with the city picking up the remaining 25 percent.”

Cosby said the FEMA team is knowledgeable and has been helpful.

“We had a really good FEMA team,” he said. “Two of them are engineers and recognized the design flaw in the dock we have been talking about. They told us that this kind of dock doesn’t work on ocean waters. It’s great for lakes and rivers, but not for here.”

Cosby said FEMA will consider an alternate plan for the city because the dock cannot be restored to its original condition.

“Once we get the public works worksheet put in for the alternate project, if approved, will allow us to do what we want to do, which is to take out the bad sections and put the good sections back in after we replace the hinges and broken ballasts,” he said.

“The cost to fix the design flaw is about $41,000, but if we are staying with the plan to reduce the size, then the $120,000 we get from FEMA should pay for the whole project and not cost the city a dime,” he said. “We may even have money left over to give back to FEMA.”

Cosby said the city needs to get an engineer to formally say the dock cannot be replaced as is because of the design flaw.

The repairs will require each section to be lifted out of the water by crane, the ballasts repaired and the hinges replaced.

There are nine sections on the day dock. An estimated four or five sections cannot be repaired due to extensive damage. The new makeup of the dock under the city’s plan would be approximately five sections. City staffers say it will be large enough to accommodate boats dropping off passengers.

“Once we have what we need, we can probably get approval in a couple of weeks,” said Cosby. “The seawall is ready to be repaired, the dingy dock is next and as soon as we write up the specifics, we will bring it forward to commission.”

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