The city pier is moving along as scheduled with the old structure completely removed and the new structure being constructed right now. Engineering firm Baskerville Donovan’s VP, Dave Hemphill said construction is on schedule and moving forward at the scheduled pace.
Construction is “top-down” construction, meaning there will be no barge with a crane in the water driving piles. The crane will “crawl” across the top of the piles that it puts in in order to put the next series of piles. I thought this was pretty cool, as it allows them to continue work even if they have rough seas. Delays will be less likely.
The final design will be around 1,500 feet long and 26 feet off the water. The super-structure design will be different then the last design and should better survive a hurricane or other severe weather. The platform on top of the piles that will be the walkway will not actually be attached to the piles, rather just resting on top of them. Each platform weighs about 600 lbs and will have a setting that will keep them in place, but if significant force should put pressure on them (i.e. hurricane force winds, storm surge, or very rough seas), they can become displaced or even come off completely. This minimizes the damage to the piles (the expensive part) and preserves the overall super-structure.
This all sounds good in theory, but does it actually work? The short answer, yes, it does. Baskerville Donovan has built this design before, and has had the opportunity to see the results of their design after a hurricane. When Ivan hit Gulf Shores as a category 3 Hurricane in September 2004. The Pensacola Pier (designed and constructed by Baskerville Donovan) sustained only $45,000 in damage. The Dan Russell Pier, 100 miles away sustained over $1 million in damage.
The new design will be identical to the county design with the county pier a few months behind the city. I still have yet to get my hands on any renderings or conceptuals, but I was told yesterday that I would be emailed some. I’ll post it when I see it.
Thanks, BDI, for your sweet design, we all look forward to getting our piers back.