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Divers inspect damage a barge did to new Anna Maria City Pier. Here’s when it might open

Damage assessment underway on Anna Maria City Pier

Despite a barge accident that busted at least two pilings on the Anna Maria City Pier that was destroyed by Hurricane Irma, city officials are confident construction timetables have not been impacted thus far.
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Despite a barge accident that busted at least two pilings on the Anna Maria City Pier that was destroyed by Hurricane Irma, city officials are confident construction timetables have not been impacted thus far.

On a windy Friday on the Tampa Bay side of Anna Maria Island, workers continued construction of the new Anna Maria City Pier.

However, most notable were the stacks of construction materials to be used to build a new restaurant and bait shop piled high at the end of the pier that could not yet be touched.

Just off of the pier, red diving flags blew in the gusty winds indicating there were divers in the water as a damage assessment got underway around noon on Friday following a Sept. 10 accident that damaged the pier and broke at least two of the new pilings.

“We are hoping the damage is limited to just the two pilings,” said Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy. “If that is what it turns out to be then our construction schedule is still sound and we could still open in the December to January time frame.”

Murphy said if the damage is limited to just the two piers, repair work should go quickly, ”but right now what’s being held up is the restaurant and bait shop because we can’t get out there until such a time the pier is sound again.”

The barge, which belongs to the contractor, was repositioning at about 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday when the tug captain lost control due to tidal currents and some wind. The barge rammed into the pier, breaking the pilings and “destroying” some electrical and plumbing conduits, according to the city.

Public Works Manager Dean Jones said the divers come from the same company that assessed the damage to the pier after Hurricane Irma severely damaged the pier exactly two years to the day of Tuesday’s barge accident.

Hurricane Irma, which hit Anna Maria Island on Sept. 10-11, destroyed the historic Anna Maria City Pier.

Jones said the city has a high level of confidence in what the divers will determine.

“We are still on track. We still have workers working ... so this is just a little bump in the road for us and it’s really no problem whatsoever,” Jones said. “We are going to assess the situation and remedy the problem.”

Murphy said he may get a verbal briefing on the divers’ initial assessment at some point this weekend, but a full written report won’t likely be ready until the first of next week.

The contractor, i+iconUSA, took immediate responsibility for the accident. The extent and cost of the damage will be determined once the divers complete their work, but the contractor will be paying all associated costs.

Breaking News/Real Time Reporter Mark Young began his career in 1996 and has been with the Bradenton Herald since 2014. He has won more than a dozen awards over the years, including the coveted Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting from the Florida Press Club and for beat reporting from the Society for Professional Journalists to name a few. His reporting experience is as diverse as the communities he covers.
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