St. Johns County Pier
Work is scheduled to begin Jan. 6 on the St. Johns County Ocean and Fishing Pier located at St. Augustine Beach. The Pier will be closed through May 2020 for repairs, improvements and rehabilitation.
The $780,000 project will include removal and replacement of the deck boards, guard rails and posts, the removal of four prestressed, precast support beams (under the pier) and the replacement with glulam beams. The approach boardwalk work will include removal and replacement of the walk-boards, the guard rails and posts, and replacement of any piles that are found to be depleted once they are exposed.
The pier, located in St. Augustine Beach, which draws thousands of visitors each year either to fish or just to sightsee, has a history of ups and downs. Battered by severe storms including nor’easters and hurricanes, through the years the original structure has been replaced or has had major repairs.
Funded by the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) the 1,300 foot wooden pier was completed in July 1939 and at the time was said to extend further into the ocean than any pier along the Atlantic coast. Less than a month later the pier was shortened by 500 feet after being damaged by a storm.
In the fall of 1962 a nor’easter rendered the original pier structurally unsound requiring major renovations.
A nor’easter in 1978 took another piece off the pier’s end and caused extensive damage to the pilings. Concrete shields were placed around them, but they were damaged when Hurricane David blew through. In September 1979, the storm made landfall in Palm Beach County and maneuvered northward up the Florida coast. Along the way, the storm hit and destroyed the pier.
Hurricane Dora, the first hurricane in 50 years to strike St. Augustine directly, tore off the end of the pier and sent waves crashing over the seawall into nearby coquina buildings in the fall of 1964.
A concrete-bolstered pier opened in 1984 to replace the wooden pier.
The pier was again rebuilt in 2002, as part of a $17 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to restore the coastline. The project also included renourishment of the adjacent beaches.
In July 2012, the pier was closed for several months as work began on the upper decking which was removed on a portion of the pier. Three large beams underneath the decking were replaced. The goal was to keep the pier safe and in operation for another two to 10 years
During the current pier work, the north beach access point adjacent to the pier will be closed for the duration of the project, and access to the beach near the pier will also be intermittently restricted during this time. The beach access point south of the pier, gift shop, visitor information center, splash park, parking lot, and other park facilities will remain accessible to the public, according to information from the county.