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Bellingham Marine completes work on Florida waterfront project

The city of Fort Pierce, Fla., held a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 13 to celebrate the completion of its $30 million waterfront redevelopment project and National Marina Day.

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The restoration and hazard mitigation project included the construction of 13 islands and a new marina and floating wave attenuator in the city’s outer basin designed to protect the region from hurricanes and storms.

Bellingham Marine was hired as the design/build general contractor to design and manufacture the new concrete floating docks, floating wave attenuator and gangway systems.

“This was a complete turnkey project,” Kevin Thompson, general manager of Bellingham’s Southeast Division, said in a statement. “We self-performed everything from the top of the gangways down, including all utility work; the only work we did not do was the pile driving.”

In 2004 hurricanes Frances and Jeanne destroyed the slips in the city’s outer basin and damaged many of the slips in the inner basin.

What followed was a 10-year process. Funding could not be accessed to rebuild the outer basin until a plan to protect them was approved and permitted. The city explored a number of options and decided on an island concept.

The bulk of the funding for the nearly $31 million project was provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the city’s insurance proceeds from the hurricanes. The state provided $3 million in disaster funds.

“A special thanks to all the firms and individuals involved — Tetratech, Moffatt & Nichol, Bellingham Marine and Hal Jones; we were blessed to have some of the industry’s greatest visionaries and best talent working on our project,” said Ed Seissiger, engineering project manager for the city of Fort Pierce.

“It was a long, and at times, challenging journey to get to where we are today, but we are extremely proud of what the team has accomplished and all that has been created for the city as a result of our efforts.”

“Others in Florida have done rubble islands as a form of storm surge protection, so we knew the concept was viable, but we wanted to create lagoon habitat, as well as provide habitat for shore birds on the islands; we wanted something that would not only protect the marina and the city’s waterfront, but enhance marine life,” Seissiger added.

In December 2010 the city received the final approval needed from the Army Corps of Engineers to start construction of the islands. The islands sit about 700 feet offshore; the largest of them is about 14 acres and the smallest is one-tenth of an acre. The islands will provide juvenile fish sanctuary; mangroves and oyster shells were planted to attract birds, oyster larvae, fish and other marine life.

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