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Date of Issue: December 09, 2009


The Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach was closed Dec. 2 after wave action caused structural damage. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

Strong waves associated with a storm system Dec. 2 damaged Bradenton Beach’s Historic Bridge Street Pier, forcing the temporary closure of the structure.

Rotten Ralph’s restaurant at the pier remained open during the pier closure, which lasted until mid-day Dec. 4.

The National Weather Service reported sustained winds of 30 mph in the area Dec. 2, the day the pier was damaged. One gust measured 38 mph, just short of tropical-storm force winds.

“The pier is closed because of storm damage that occurred,” Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale announced Dec. 3 during a regular meeting of the city pier team, which consists of city staff involved with operating and maintaining the pier.

Speciale explained that there was a cantilever connecting a floating day dock and the pier boardwalk. Wave action caused the cantilever to twist, a ramp to pivot, resulting in two weakened concrete pilings.

“The day dock was going back and forth,” Speciale said. “Two concrete pilings cracked. Lost their integrity.… The minute we found damage, we immediately closed it.”

The city also called for assistance from dock builders and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Speciale said the temporary fix cost about $1,000 and involved installing two 16-inch wood pilings and removing the cantilever.

“We don’t foresee a very long fix process,” he said.

The next day, Dec. 4, Speciale announced the pier was opened, though the day dock remained closed.

The chief could not provide an estimate on the cost for a permanent repair to the pier, which was reopened in September 2007 after a $2.2 million renovation. The pier had suffered structural damage during the 2004 hurricane season.

Speciale said the situation could have been worse. “The ramp didn’t fall,” he said. “If it had, it could have taken part of the pier with it.”

Elsewhere on the Island, the mid-week storm, associated with a cold-front and generating a lot of lightning, had minor impact.

In Bradenton, however, high winds downed power lines downtown, knocking out electricity throughout the city.