Gulf State Park pier construction begins to repair damage from Hurricane Sally

GULF SHORES, Ala. (AP) — Hurricane Sally wiped out a 200-foot (61-meter) section of the Gulf State Park Fishing Pier on the Alabama coast in September 2020 just as it was about to reopen after a $2.4 million rebuild that was prompted by an earlier storm.

Now, the pier in Baldwin County has closed for construction again to repair the damage from Sally and should reopen by the end of next summer, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said.

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The 1,500-foot-long (457-meter-long) pier had been the second-longest on the Gulf of Mexico before Hurricane Sally collapsed a portion of it near the fishing area at the south end, al.com reported.

The $13.6 million repair was awarded to MD Thomas Construction, which did the earlier renovation.

The pier closed to the public on Nov. 12 and will remain unavailable throughout the project, which should be completed in 2024. It’s expected to take about eight months, with a target date of August for reopening.

Rebuilding the pier will require removing the concrete pilings that collapsed and are underwater. Some of the standing pilings will have to be repaired by divers.

Lighting equipment for the entire pier will have to be replaced.

The removal of debris is expected to take a couple of months, depending on the weather.

When the work is complete, the pier should be better than ever, said Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“A trip to the Gulf is not complete without experiencing the sights from the pier,” he said. “When the work is completed, anglers and other park visitors will have full access to one of the premier fishing and sightseeing destinations on the Gulf Coast.”

While the pier is closed, park visitors can still get to the beach at Cotton Bayou, Alabama Point, Shell Beach and the Beach Pavilion, and Romar Beach access will open soon with improvements, the department said.

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