FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – An engineering firm hired by the city of Fernandina Beach found that a dozen walkovers that provide access to the area's beaches have been deemed unsafe for use.
The walkovers have significant corrosion of their nuts, washers and bolt heads “to the point where some connections have completely corroded apart,” according to the survey conducted by Gillette and Associates.
The independent study evaluated 27 boardwalks for stability and safety and recommended 12 walkways be closed until they can be repaired or replaced. City Attorney Tammi Bach said given the findings of the survey, the city should immediately close the walkovers in the interest of public safety.
Walkovers 38, 35S, 6N, 4N, 10, 27, 28, 29, 30, 36, 39 and 40 should not be used until repairs are made, City Commissioner Mike Lednovich wrote in a safety alert posted to his official Facebook page.
The city said three of the beach access boardwalks, built in the late 1980s and early 1990s, need to be completely replaced and rebuilt, including some where the guardrails are missing and the decking is in poor condition.
Gillette and Associates was paid about $4,800 by Fernandina Beach to conduct the survey, according to Lednovich.
"We don't have the engineering expertise on city staff to conduct an expert inspection," City Manager Dale Martin said. "Plus, we wanted a third party independent assessment of the walkovers.”
City crews will begin dismantling walkovers 35S and 38. They will leave the pilings intact and string ropes on the pilings on each side to mark the path to the beach until the walkovers can be rebuilt, Lednovich said.
City officials are set to meet Monday to discuss the replacement project, including a timeline and potential contractors.
Fernandina Beach residents told News4Jax they are disturbed at the prospect of losing their walkways, even temporarily.
"We buy our homes because in this area because of the beach access," said Rob Brodsky, who walks to the beach multiple times every day. "To have it shut down for any period of time would be unsettling."