The wooden piers and walkways under the Dunlawton bridge barely survived the wrath of Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.
Now the City of Port Orange hopes a $1.1 million project will restore and strengthen them before the next hurricane comes.
The repair work started Jan. 29 at Causeway Park, nearly a year and a half after Matthew.
The goal is to get the piers and walkways ready to go by the 4th of July weekend, according to Public Information Officer Christine Martindale.
“Matthew destroyed the T pier and heavily damaged the east and west piers,” Ms. Martindale said. “Irma caused additional damage to the east and west piers. The damage sustained made the fishing pier unusable.”
Parks & Recreation Director Susan Lovallo says Matthew and Irma uprooted some of the support pilings, leaving sections floating loose in the water and making it unstable for walking.
“We were hoping to get this done way before now,” Ms. Lovallo said. “We get calls every day from people asking when it’ll reopen. I get some, my staff gets some. At least two to three calls a day.”
She also mentioned her department is making it a “high priority” to get the piers fixed as soon as possible since the park is among the busiest in the city, attracting those who like to fish and use the boat ramps to access the Halifax River.
An electronic sign board is in place to keep users updated as construction progresses, including when certain areas will not be accessible to the public.
Ms. Lovallo noted there could be times when boat ramps and parking spaces are completely or partially blocked, mostly because of construction material.
Funding is coming from a variety of sources, including reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a disaster grant from the Florida Inland Navigation District and the city’s Capital Improvement Fund.
Ms. Lovallo says it’s been a long process to get the money, especially at the federal level, and there’s still a ways to go before that gets fully resolved.
“We’re trying to get FIND grants to fix the boat ramp on north side of the park,” Ms. Lovallo noted. “We might get some FEMA dollars for that, too. If so, FIND would be reimbursed.”
That boat ramp is in the design phase and will likely remain that way for at least the next few months, according to Ms. Lovallo. She’s hoping to get it fixed by the end of the year.
Once it’s finished, the wooden piers and walkway should look largely the same as before, but the lighting and pier handrails will be changed to match what’s in place at Riverwalk Park.
Dredging & Marine Consultants of Port Orange is the designer for the project. Brothers Construction Inc. of Stuart is the contractor.
For more information, call Port Orange Parks & Recreation at (386) 506-5851.