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Date of Issue: September 20, 2007

Bradenton Beach pier scheduled to open at week's end

Pending commission approval Thursday, the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach is scheduled to open to the public Friday, Sept. 21.

Police Chief Sam Speciale, who has been serving as facilitator on the construction of the project, said the “pier team” officially disbanded last week.

The pier was damaged by storms in 2004, the restaurant closed, and the fishing structure - the entire pier - later closed to fishers and visitors.

Work has been ongoing since last December.

The work cost about $2.2 million, one of the city’s most ambitious capital improvements.

The restaurant, at the foot of Bridge Street, is ready to go, Speciale said.

Also within the complex, at the east end of Bridge Street at Anna Maria Sound, is a tackle shop or, as it is sometimes called, the “fishing kiosk.” There is also a harbormaster office and bathhouse/rest room facility.

Rotten Ralph’s Waterfront Restaurant, of Anna Maria City fame, will operate the 90-plus seat restaurant.

The restaurant is a little different from what patrons of the past will recall. Fishers now have a broad walkway to the south of the structure for ingress and egress to the pier proper, rather than the previous journey through diners on the deck.

The outdoor deck is also semi-enclosed via railings to keep restaurateurs and fishers apart.

One of the newest features of the pier is a 210-foot-long floating dock in the waters just to the south of the pier. The dock has a thin concrete surface and is bracketed by massive pilings with stainless-steel loops.

The floating dock, at a cost of about $300,000, comes compliments of a state grant and is, city officials hope, a harbinger for an eventual docking site for water taxi service in years to come. In the meantime, it will provide an easy means for the boating public to utilize the pier facilities.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Friday’s potential opening, with a grand opening scheduled for late October.