Pier boardwalk, entry, parking lot near completion

Despite the Florida Department of Transportation’s optimistic July 13 press release that the north portion of the boardwalk at the Anna Maria City Pier would be open last week, it didn’t happen.

Anna Maria public works director George McKay, who is overseeing the project for the city while the DOT has overall supervision, said one holdup was the need for more wheel bumpers in the north parking lot.

McKay said crews from Woodruff & Sons, the general contractor for the project, worked this past weekend to complete the north boardwalk and parking lot. When the work is finished, McKay said the north parking lot and boardwalk could open.

DOT spokesperson Trudy Gerena said the anticipated opening last week was “temporarily postponed,” while DOT and Anna Maria officials re-evaluate the parking area to “see if it would be beneficial to install additional wheel bumpers along the road side” to ensure a safer parking area.

“Once the parking decision has been made, the parking area will be open to the public,” Gerena said.

Lighting for the north boardwalk is on back order, she said, and benches should be in place the first week of August.

While the loading space for the Island trolley is nearly complete, the truncated dome mats can’t be installed until the concrete for the loading space has been “cured for 28 days,” Gerena said. The trolley stop should be operational by late August.

Anna Maria Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick, who was instrumental in obtaining the grant that funded the $857,000 project, said last week she was disappointed that the opening was delayed.

“We’re not talking about a grand opening or ribbon-cutting, but I expected to see people on the boardwalk this week, so I was disappointed,” Mattick said.

After nearly five years of working to bring the project to fruition, however, Mattick said she could wait a few more days.

“You can see that it’s coming along, and when the landscaping grows in, it’s going to look very attractive.”

Mattick said the 850-foot-long boardwalk would be particularly helpful for people in wheelchairs to visit the pier or take in the sights. The boardwalk is only 8 inches above ground and people in a wheelchair can easily enter the walkway.

“They can get on the boardwalk anywhere and there will be some areas on the boardwalk set aside for those in wheelchairs to view the pier and waters,” said Mattick.

Last week, the commissioner expressed some concern that installation of the shelters roofs at the pier entrance was delayed.

“We really need to have the trolley shelter covered and ready as soon as possible,” Mattick said.

Woodruff & Sons Inc. began construction in mid-May, concentrating initially on construction of the north portion of the boardwalk, the shelters at the pier entrance and the northernmost pier parking lot.

Both the north and south sections of the project should be completed in October, the DOT said.

Funding for the boardwalk is from a federal grant administered by the DOT through its maintenance of State Road 789/Gulf Drive. For more information on the project, go to www.mysr789.com.

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