Safety first at city’s floating dock

Some public frustration is mounting over the lengthy closure of the floating day dock adjacent to the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach.

Especially for new visitors to the island, who aren’t up to speed on city news, said public works director Tom Woodard.

“I had some fairly vocal complaints, especially during the Dec. 15 lighted boat parade,” he said. “The problem is that the floating dock looks fine by looking at it, so people don’t understand why we have it closed down.”

Safety is the city’s primary concern, he said.

“Three of the sections are completely unusable,” he said. “The hinges are completely separated and the ballasts that keep the sections afloat are broken and can’t handle any additional weight.”

Woodard said people are attempting to use the dock despite notifications and posted signage stating its closure.

“If they step on any one of those three sections in particular, they will go straight into the water,” he said. “It’s a huge tripping hazard and the city just can’t take any chances having any part of it open.”

Woodard recommends boaters use the recently opened dinghy dock across from the BridgeTender Inn and Dockside Bar.

Both docks were damaged by Tropical Storm Debby in June and repairs were approved under terms and conditions of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The dinghy dock was repaired and reopened a few weeks ago. But while the city has been working with FEMA, the city’s modified design to shorten the day dock has not received an official sign off.

The city awaits one final signature to ensure funding is in place before day dock repairs begin, but Hurricane Sandy’s collision with a Northeaster, which gave rise to Super Storm Sandy and devastation in parts of the Northeast, has left FEMA with higher priorities.

“We are still in a holding pattern and waiting on the money to be 100 percent approved,” said Woodard. “There have not been any updates since our Dec. 6 meeting, but we hope to have an update after the first of the year.”

Until then, Woodard said, patience is required.

“People are still using it because it looks fine, but it’s not,” he said. “It’s hazardous to use and we cannot take the slightest risk, so it has to remain closed for now.”

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