The Central Coast loves their iconic wooden piers as witnessed by the generous community support to repair the aged Cayucos pier scheduled to reopen in time for Halloween this weekend after two years of being closed. Through multiple sources including county funds, some $3.5 million was raised to do the repair replacing some 200 piles that supported the 900-foot pier built in 1872.
Now pier lovers may have to open their wallets again, and open them wide.
Fear that rough winter storms could also bring down the aging 1651 foot Avila Pier in Avila Bay prompted the Port San Luis Harbor District to close that pier earlier this summer after throngs of tourists crowded onto the pier to watch whales in Avila Bay this summer.
In late June Harbor Master Steve McGrath said the pier would need to be evaluated for safety – later estimating it might cost $1.1 million as a “rough estimate” for the repairs. He told the press the pier had been weakened by“worm-like marine species that bore holes in the wood.”
This week the harbor commission got a wake-up call on the cost after Shoreline Engineering carried out an underwater structural evaluation in September.
Facilities Manager for Port San Luis Loch Dreizler says a new estimate for the pier’s repair is over $12 million based on the cost of replacing more than 700 timber piles using the same ratio as the Cayucos pier where just 200 piles were replaced.
“Our board wanted to get a handle on just how much it would cost and this gives us a ballpark number. It is a big number.”
The October 27 staff report says replacing “700 piles on the Avila Pier would cost approximately $12,250,000 without considering additional costs for working around the oil plume, or planning for potential retail space on the terminus.”
Dreizler says the harbor commission is not done with their study yet and will hire a geotechnical soils expert to assess the stability of the ground underneath the pier.
The pier was last inspected in 1998 with the latest Sept 2015 engineering study concluding that the ” entire pier facility was near the end of its expected service life.”
The Avila Pier was constructed by the County of San Luis Obispo in 1908. Not as well protected as the shorter, nearby Harford Pier, it has sustained major storm damage throughout the years and but has been repaired after each event. In 1984 the State of California and San Luis Obispo County transferred ownership of Avila Beach, including the Avila Pier, to the Harbor District. The pier is said to be the 7th longest in the state.
If estimates are correct a fund raising goal of more than 3 times what the Cayucos pier supporters undertook would be needed to do the repairs. The district may hire a PR firm if the decision to move forward is made.
With EL Nino storms expected to batter the coast this winter, the decision could be made for them. The structural study concluded that more than half the piles had damage considered “major or severe” and that the pier should not reopen until repairs are made.
In other Port San Luis news the commission hired former city manager of Morro Bay Andrea Lueker to replace Steve McGrath on an interim basis at this weeks meeting. Lueker will take over as negotiations with Red Tail Acquisitions move forward on an expected agreement to build the long-awaited Harbor Terrace project.
In addition the Port is looking forward to the opening of the new Dorn’s restaurant on the Harford Pier at years end to be called Mersea’s