Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fishing Pier to Be Open by Christmas; Town Meeting Also Hears Roads Won't Close and More Portables to Be Bought

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fishing Pier to Be Open by Christmas; Town Meeting Also Hears Roads Won't Close and More Portables to Be Bought

Article excerpt

Byline: Caren Burmeister, Shorelines staff writer

The fishing pier in Jacksonville Beach won't open until the Christmas holidays. Four lanes of the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway will remain open when the Beach Boulevard road widening begins next year. And Fletcher High is ordering more portable classrooms to deal with overcrowding.

Those are some of the things that three dozen residents learned Thursday at a town meeting hosted by Jacksonville Councilman Art Graham and Duval County School Board member Nancy Broner, who both represent the Beaches.

Graham said the fishing pier at Fourth Avenue North is expected to open before Christmas, according to the latest projection by Jacksonville officials.

"This is one of those things that's drug on, it seems, like forever," Graham said, noting the old pier on Sixth Avenue South closed in late 1999 after Hurricane Floyd nearly destroyed it.

The 1,300-foot-long pier is finished for all practical purposes, said Jacksonville Project Manager Bill Lyle. Construction began in September 2003 and has gone smoothly until about six weeks ago, when the state was hit by a series of hurricanes.

The concrete structure is designed to withstand a 100-year storm, or the worst storm that has occurred in the last century. The wooden deck is designed to blow apart in sections with super-high winds. Also, the pier is built 20 feet above the water line to help it withstand the storm surge.

Jacksonville Beach signed a contract last week with the Haskell Company to extend the brick SeaWalk to Sixth Avenue North and build a parking lot at the site of the pier's construction pad. Both of those projects must be finished before the pier can open, Jacksonville Beach officials said.

Once completed, the pier will be about 20 feet wide with a T-shaped platform at the end, from which Jacksonville Beach plans to set off its July Fourth fireworks. The pier will also have a bait and tackle shop, restrooms, two sun shades and four fish-cleaning stations.

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority plans to start widening Beach Boulevard from four to six lanes and construct a new fixed bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway in late 2005. The project, which will run from San Pablo Road to Ninth Street in Jacksonville Beach, will take about 2.5 years to complete, said Hamid Tabassian, a project manager for the JTA.

The JTA will hold a public meeting in December or January to update the community on the road design plan.

The agency plans to keep four lanes of the McCormick bridge open to the public while it builds the new bridge. Once the new westbound span is constructed, contractors will demolish the westbound span of the McCormick bridge and traffic will shift to the newly completed span. Then contractors will build the new eastbound span. …

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