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Long-awaited Bayport Pier reopening set for Thursday

Damaged by Hurricane Hermine in 2016, the work was delayed by the site’s historical significance
Hernando County is set to reopen the Bayport Pier on Thursday.
Hernando County is set to reopen the Bayport Pier on Thursday. [ Hernando County ]
Published Sep. 19, 2020

BAYPORT — Splintered by a five-foot storm surge from Hurricane Hermine in 2016, the Bayport Pier will finally be ready to welcome visitors again this week.

Hernando County will cut the ribbon at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday (Sept. 24) at the pier, which is located at 4140 Cortez Boulevard in Spring Hill. The event will be streamed live on the Hernando County Facebook page.

Work to repair the pier, which juts into the Gulf of Mexico, was slow for a variety of reasons, ranging from county budget shortfalls to red tape related to the historical significance of the location. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which assesses storm damage, originally estimated the repair cost at $333,000, the real cost is over $900,000. The county will receive much of that back in reimbursement from the federal agency, officials have said.

The pier was built on the site of several Civil War clashes between Union ships from Tampa and Confederate militia at Bayport. Historians mark a significant battle at the site in 1863, so the county had extra construction challenges to ensure that the ship wreck there and any artifacts that still exist were not compromised.

Midcoast Construction Enterprises, Inc., the company contracted to perform the reconstruction, and Cardo, an environmental firm overseeing the work, completed the project. To protect the two overlapping archaeological sites near the pier site, Cardo marked the shipwreck site and set buoys for the entire length of the construction to protect the integrity of these sites.

“We recognize that the Bayport Pier is an important amenity to the Hernando County community and have been working diligently to restore it back to its pre-disaster condition,” according to a Hernando County press release. “We appreciate the community’s patience during this process and look forward to its reopening. After the conclusion of the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, the Bayport Pier will be open for public use beginning at 10:30 a.m.”