Right about now all Panama City Beach residents should shout, “Finally!” then collectively sigh. By the 4th of July, Panama City Beach will have the long-awaited Dan Russell Pier re-construction completed, its platform opened, designed to be light-years better and safer than its predecessor.
For those who don’t know much about the new city pier, here is a quick recap: The 8 million dollar structure (the cost for both the county and city piers) was funded by Fema after the previous pier was severely damaged in a hurricane. Designed by Baskerville Donovan, the city pier will extend out over the gulf a lengthy 1500 feet, 29 feet longer than the old pier. The pier stands 8 feet higher than its predecessor and wider at 17 feet. A super-structure, the pier is built to withstand hurricanes of all kinds. Six hundred pound bolted blowout panels line the platform that, when met with storm surge and winds, relieve the pressure on the structure by releasing the panels to safely drift onshore to later be reset. The previous structure also had a T shape at its head. Baskerville Donovan designed the new pier with a much larger head shaped in a rectangle. The rectangular area has a dual purpose of form and function as it accommodates more gazers and fishermen while providing additional protection during storm surge. What may be surprising to some, the pier is turtle friendly. Track lighting embedded into the stone frame, runs down the pier from end to end, eliminating the need for canopy lighting.
Along the Front Beach Road, the pier’s best asset won’t be open until the spring. At nearly 300 feet wide, a boardwalk will be added that could make the pier, coupled with Pier Park, Panama City Beach’s new downtown area. This boardwalk, conformed to potential new form-based design regulations will make room for a ticket booth, a 62ft wide restaurant, a tackle and bait store, public bathrooms and a large outdoor area with umbrella seating for those seeking stellar views. This area will, most likely, wear the same beachy-guise as Pier Park seeming to extend the popular mall to the shore.
Parking for the new pier will line along the roadside and additional overflow parking will be across the street just west of Pier Park’s entrance. Costs will be $6.00 for entrance for fishing and $2.00 for individuals. Senior citizens, military and disabled will receive 50% discounts. Year long passes will be sold for $180.00.
The pier reopening will be heralded by a stunning 4th of July fireworks display, the perfect kickoff to welcoming back a pier that’s been sorely missed.