JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – The Jacksonville Beach Pier is set to reopen in the next few weeks after a lengthy construction project.
Crews rebuilt about two-thirds of the popular tourist attraction after Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017 washed away more than 100 feet of the structure.
Many beachgoers told News4JAX on Monday that it’s about time. Whether they come to Jacksonville Beach to fish, surf or just enjoy the beautiful views, they said they can’t wait for the construction to be done.
“Wonderful,” said David Leobino. “Looking forward to it.”
David Leobino and his wife are big fans of the beach. It’s his happy place as he waits for a kidney transplant.
“We’re here almost every day. It’s worth it. We love it,” he said.
But years of construction have been an eyesore and have kept him from fishing.
Nearly six years since Hurricane Matthew ripped off the end of the structure -- and then Irma did more damage –-- the rebuilding project is approaching the finish line.
“We are almost there. We’re about to have our pier back,” said Jacksonville City Councilman Rory Diamond, who represents District 13, which includes the beaches.
Diamond said it should be open “around” the Fourth of July.
He told News4JAX what will be different this time around.
“Most importantly you’ll see the normal pier goes out and then it angles up 12 feet, so we have an extra 12 feet when storms come through that shouldn’t be able to knock it out,” Diamond said.
In the beginning, Diamond said, the pier will likely be free to visit, and while the city of Jacksonville will continue to own it, Jacksonville Beach, where it sits, will manage eventually it. He hopes to see special events and parties hosted on it.
“There’s no question it’s going to help us get more people to restaurants and bars and the hotels. It’s going to be great,” Diamond said.
It’ll also open back more parking, as one lot has been used for construction.
Surfers are stoked. Four surfers named Lila, Ella, Abby and Lilly told News4JAX that they think it’ll improve the area and attract more surfers.
The overall budget is north of $14 million, most of which was paid for with federal money because of the hurricanes.
News4JAX asked the city of Jacksonville if we would be able to take you out on the pier for a sneak peek. We’ve also asked for the official opening date.