Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier Will Reopen Friday
The other day I saw park officials and the construction crews chatting on the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier. I dropped by to see how the work is progressing, after I fished the point on opening day. I am very happy to report that the first phase of the Fishing Pier repairs has been completed and the pier will open Friday at 4:30 PM. A total of 108 pylons have been repaired with sleeves filled with mortar. Originally the estimate called for 125 pylons to be fixed but as the project progressed it was decided that the pylons closest to the beach would be fine since they are buried in sand. This also saved the project some money. Now that each bent has three pylons that have been reinforced it is hoped that the repairs will increase the life of the pier by two to five years. A bent refers to six pylons in a row, having at least three of the pylons in each bent reinforced, increases the strength.
The next phase will be the removal of the decking and evaluation of the sub decking for replacement. This will happen in December when the pier is closed again. This phase of the project will be easier to work on as far as crews since anyone is qualified to replace decking. The pylon repairs required engineers and the like. The parks are currently cleaning up the existing decking and doing some aesthetic work on the pier for this weekend’s opening. There will not be any ceremonies or ribbon cuttings, the pier will just reopen. Keep in mind the decking is the same from last year so the pier will look exactly the same just a year older. The work that was completed was done underneath and can not be seen from above. You can see the repaired pylons from the beach and underneath the pier.
Some changes will happen once the second phase is completed for next year. The fencing will be removed in order to replace the decking and it will have to be replaced as well. The supports will be reinforced and handicap access will be added in a few areas. The fence’s height is about thirty-one inches and will be lowered in a few areas for wheel chair accessibility so people can fish over the rail. The very end of the pier is leaning and that section will be removed instead of repaired. The tall fence at the end of the pier will be removed and replaced with the same rail and fencing around the pier at the same height. There will be sign to warn people not to dive off the end of the pier. There are pylons under the water at the end of the pier, you don’t want to land on one of them. Being able to fish the end of the pier now will be a bonus!
The parks expect these repairs to last two to five years, which will hopefully help them secure funding to plan and build a replacement pier. That alone can be a two to three year process to get the monies needed, permits, and plans. The problem will be where to build a new pier. The beach there (harbor of safe refuge) has been filling in for years and will continue to do so. Rebuilding a pier in that area will be a waste of money, eventually that area will completely fill in and there is no plan to dredge. The parks will have to look at other locations for a new pier. Personally I would love to see an ocean pier, made of cement and rock. Serious structure that will hold fish and not fall down. Big thanks to Representatives … Speaker Schwartzkopf, Senator Lopez, Rep. Dukes, and Rep. Smyk … For volunteering to help raise money for the second phase of this project. Without their support this project could have taken longer or never happened. The parks are also requesting a grant through US Fish and Wildlife service for some of the monies needed for the decking phase which will help alleviate costs. The pylon repair phase cost $424,000, and the decking cost will have to be determined after it is removed. The subdecking may or may not need replacing in some areas.
Just in time for some fall fishing, we will be able to use the pier and there is still time for some end of summer fishing. Come prepared, the bait shop at the pier will not reopen this year, but will be back in action next year. The lights will be on and basically the pier will look just like it did the day it was closed. Next year you will actually see the difference with new decking. Some of the old decking is still a little rough in some areas, the parks are sprucing it up as much as possible. I know many folks will be fishing the pier this weekend and throughout the rest of the year. I for one am looking forward to a night on the pier hammering fish. That`is also a great place to catch calico crabs for tautog fishing, just use crab rings. The mullet have been heavier along the shores there and you will see many an old salt wandering the boards looking for bait schools. Just being able to walk out there to see and hear the sights and sounds of the Harbor of Safe Refuge will be exhilarating.
Check out Diamond State Custom Tackle for all your terminal tackle needs, available at PC Rods in Milton and other area stores soon.