Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier Set to Re-Open on Friday

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(Dover, Del.) DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation will re-open the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier in Lewes on Friday, May 23.

The pier has been closed since April 29 while new fencing was installed to block off sections of the pier in need of repair. Eighteen of the pier’s pilings, located throughout the pier, were identified in an engineering report commissioned by DNREC as “requiring immediate repair in order to keep the entire inner portion of the pier open.”

During the closure, park officials consulted with engineers to confirm that the pier could be safely reopened for the 2008 season. Temporary fencing has been installed and more permanent safety barriers will be erected in June.

“We’re pleased to have the pier back open in time for the Memorial Day holiday,” said John A. Hughes, DNREC Secretary. “We want to assure the public that the pier is safe, as long as they stay out of the areas that are fenced off.”

In April, a review was conducted by the structural engineering firm of Baker, Ingram & Associates. In addition to the 18 pilings requiring immediate repair, the report identified 146 (or 25 percent) of the pilings on the inner portion of the pier that have little or no capacity for vertical or lateral loads.

The new fencing blocks off the areas where those 18 pilings are located while allowing the remainder of the pier to be utilized.

“This is good news for thousands of anglers and visitors who use the pier,” said Charles Salkin, director of Delaware State Parks. “The closure, which adversely affected a lot of people, was necessary to ensure the public’s overall safety. The new fencing reinforces our commitment to keeping the pier open as long as the public is safe.”

Part of the 1,800-foot pier was temporarily closed in August of 2006 after structural problems were identified in the pier’s pilings and support structure. Ten pilings were repaired to allow for the reopening of the landward 1,200-foot section of the pier. The 600-foot seaward section of the pier, including the ‘T-Head’ has been closed since that time due to safety concerns.

The all-wooden pier, originally constructed during WW II by the Department of the Army as a Mining Wharf, has undergone limited rehabilitation over the years, most recently with new decking and railings about 12 years ago.

The cost to repair the 18 pilings needing immediate repair is estimated to be $150,000. No funding is presently available. If repaired, it may be possible to use the pier for another year. After that, the pier will most likely require more rebuilding or replacement. The approximate cost to replace the existing wooden structure with a new concrete pier is $15 to $16 million.