BRADENTON BEACH – The long-delayed floating dock is now in the initial stages of being installed alongside the Bridge Street Pier.
A four-man crew from the Gibsonton-based Hecker Construction Company drove the first fiberglass composite dock pilings on Wednesday, July 10. The crew is using a pile-driving mechanism connected to a mobile crane that sits atop the floating work barge.
The new dock will replace the storm-damaged dock that was removed in 2016.
Co-funded by the Bradenton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and Manatee County, the new floating dock will provide short-term dockage on a first-come, first-serve basis for recreational boaters visiting the pier and the Bridge Street business district.
The floating dock will also provide limited, short-term dockage for tour boats, water taxis and other commercial vessels for loading and unloading passengers.
“They’re out there working on it,” CRA chair Ralph Cole said at the July 10 meeting. “I’m excited.”
Without providing a specific completion date, Cole said Hecker’s Operations Manager, Eric Shaffer, told him the company’s goal is to get the dock installed as soon as possible.
The Hecker bid proposal, approved by the CRA members in early May and finalized in June, includes agreement language drafted by City Attorney Ricinda Perry that gave Hecker six weeks to complete the project once the dock pilings were delivered. The agreement includes a $500 per day penalty if the project is not completed on time.
The pilings arrived at the county barge dock near the Coquina South Boat Ramp during the last week of June.
“I’m really happy to see this project coming to completion. We had some unfortunate circumstances and delays, but we overcame that through the efforts of our city staff and our city officials. I can’t wait to use it,” CRA member and Vice Mayor Jake Spooner said later in the week.
The Anna Maria Oyster Bar leases the city-owned restaurant space and two smaller city-owned spaces at the foot of the Historic Bridge Street Pier.
“A gorgeous view for sure,” Oyster Bar president John Horne said of the work underway. “I can’t wait to see boats rafted off that dock with visitors and patrons of Bridge Street and the Anna Maria Oyster Bar.”
Sherman Baldwin is the general manager of Paradise Boat Tours. The company’s on land terminal is located in space subleased from the Oyster Bar. Baldwin also serves as the vice president of the Bridge Street Merchants Association.
“The long wait is over. Thanks to the persistence of the CRA for making this project happen after facing every challenge imaginable. This will be an economic boost for all of Bridge Street,” Baldwin said.
In early 2017, the CRA entered into a $119,980 contract with the North Palm Beach-based Technomarine Group to provide the materials and install a new floating dock alongside the pier.
In the CRA’s 2016-17 fiscal year budget, CRA members budgeted up to $250,000 for the dock project. And Manatee County commissioners agreed to reimburse the CRA for up to $125,000 of the project costs.
In August 2018, Spain-based Ronautica Marinas shipped the premanufactured floating dock decking sections to Port Everglades. After some additional delays, Technomarine later delivered the dock sections to Hecker’s construction yard in Gibsonton, so the floats could be attached to the decking.
In early 2019, the CRA ended its contractual relationship with Technomarine due to the ongoing delays and began dealing directly with Shaffer and Hecker Construction. According to City Treasurer Shayne Thompson, the CRA had paid Technomarine $83,682 of the $119,980 contracted amount at that time – and to date, the county has reimbursed the CRA $26,995 of the $83,682 paid to Technomarine.
In May, the CRA members approved Hecker’s $52,400 revised bid proposal to attach the floats to the decking dock sections and install the dock.
The CRA members also decided the CRA would purchase the pilings directly to receive the sale tax exemption given to governmental agencies. According to Perry’s May 15 project update, the pilings cost $45,704 when ordered.
The Hecker contract, the piling purchases and other additional expenses bring the anticipated final cost of the dock project to approximately $184,000.
During past CRA meetings, Cole has expressed his belief that despite these additional costs the final product will be superior to the dock originally envisioned.