JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Sunday was the last day for beachgoers to walk on the Jacksonville Beach Pier before it closes down for a two-year renovation project.
The pier closed at 9 p.m. Sunday ahead of the repairs, which began Monday morning.
Blue skies and a cool breeze were perfect conditions for those enjoying their last hours on the focal point and beloved landmark in Jacksonville Beach.
“We are enjoying the weather, the scenery," beachgoer Jona Perry said. “It’s pretty nice.”
The pier sustained damage in Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Irma in 2017, leaving only a portion of it open to the public.
The city said 75% of funding for the project will come from the federal government, with the remaining 25% will be an even split between the city and the state.
Eric Wray, who has been fishing from the pier for the last 10 years, said it was “disheartening” that Sunday was the last day he will be able to fish from that spot for quite some time.
The renovation project includes removing damaged sections from the pier and rebuilding it to its original 34-section length. The contractor will also be installing wood deck panels, lighting, plumbing and fire protection.
City leaders said the new pier will be eight feet higher and will have a ramp to help strengthen the structure against powerful waves.
“I can’t wait for them to get it completed because when you get out near the end, you can move in and out as the fish move in and out,” Wray said. “It will be fantastic.”
Alex Deynega is visiting from North Carolina and spent the night fishing on the pier.
“The last time I was here, it was still all in tact,” Deynega said. " I liked it a lot better, I can’t wait for it. I will be back."
Repairs are supposed to be completed by November 2021 if all goes as planned.
“I can’t wait for it to open up again. It will be a grand, new pier. It will be great,” Wray said. “The countdown clock is on.”