Back in business: Jacksonville Beach Pier reopens after 3-year construction project

The pier reopened Wednesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Jacksonville Beach Mayor Christine Hoffman.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Nearly six years ago, Hurricane Matthew wiped out part of the Jacksonville Beach Pier, then Hurricane Irma damaged it some more in 2017.

The damage led to a lengthy project to raise and strengthen the roughly 1,300-foot-long pier against future storms.

“We think it’s gonna be here a long time,” said project manager Tom Goldsberry.

That project began in 2019, and now three years and nearly $10 million later -- and 12 feet taller -- the pier reopened Wednesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Jacksonville Beach Mayor Christine Hoffman.

“It’s been a long time. The anticipation has been growing, and we’re really excited to reopen it here today with all of you,” Hoffman said. “This is an iconic part and symbol of the beach life out here in our community, from the fishing on top to being able to see whales and dolphins and sea turtles from the end.”

More than 100 people showed up to take their first steps on the new structure. Many said they missed having it available for fishing, sightseeing and events.

“Definitely the community loves the pier. The locals love the pier, fishermen tour,” Jacksonville Beach resident Susan Ingram. “So we’re glad it’s all back.”

After years of “closed” signs, construction zones and delays, the iconic Jacksonville Beach institution is open once again.

“It was a slow process. But when we wanted to ensure was done right. I’m grateful to our citizens for their patience,” Curry said.

The city said the additional height of the pier should protect it from storm surges and help it withstand future storms.

“This new pier has been strengthened to better withstand future storms and continue to serve our communities for decades to come,” Curry said.

Paula Brown, who has watched this entire process, is satisfied to finally see the Jacksonville Beach icon reopening.

“This beach needs some more activity going on. There are a lot of locals as well as tourists and all that like to come out here and go fishing,” Brown said.

PHOTOS: Jacksonville Beach Pier to reopen after years of construction

According to the Jacksonville Beach Police Department, the reopening will happen in phases.

First, pedestrians will be allowed on the pier daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. City officials and police will be monitoring the pier’s usage daily and gathering community input prior to what the Police Department says will be a “full reopening.”

“I think Jax Beach has become much more popular than it used to be. So I think it’s going to be fun to have a pier and to see people enjoying it,” said Emily Weisblatt, who lives within biking distance of the pier.

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In two weeks, fishing will return to the pier with a three rod limit and the pier will otherwise comply with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s rules. “A more detailed set of parameters will be released prior to the commencement of fishing,” police said.

At first, the bathrooms and bait shop will not be open. The Police Department said a request for proposals will be released by the city in the coming months, and additional rules and parameters will follow.

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