Catwalk hauled away before Grand Haven pier repairs

Ottawa County

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — A tourist hot spot in Grand Haven will be closed off for a year for repairs, city officials say.

Work on Grand Haven’s South Pier started Monday morning, according to Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis. The western-most 200 feet of the pier was shut down as crews began removing its historic catwalk. Workers will close off more of the pier each day until all of it is shut down within nine days.

The catwalk, a local landmark, had to be moved so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could repair the cracked and worn concrete breakwater — a $2.7 million job.

“We’ll remove the top structure, the 12 or 18 inches of concrete in some places, remove that down to the stone fill. We’ll replenish any stone fill that’s either washed away or settled over the years,” said Chris Schropp, the chief of construction for the USACE Lake Michigan Office.

There’s been talk of fixing the pier for about a decade. When the USACE informed the city last year that the work was pending, there was an immediate desire to save the 1,400-foot, 100-year-old catwalk, which is owned by the city.

“It was something that was very important at one time for our local economy and so preserving that just for the sake of posterity is very important to local residents and visitors,” McGinnis explained.

But saving and restoring the catwalk will cost about $700,000 and the city didn’t have that kind of money just waiting to be spent. So it’s fundraising to pay for the project. So far, it has raised $160,000 — mostly in donations from people who live along the lakeshore — to cover the removal.

Monday, boats carried portions of the black steel structure away from the pier.

“Our plan is to remove it in its entirety, store it up river — Verplank’s Dock is a dock up here up river — and then after the pier is completed, we’ll bring it back and reset it on the pier just like it looks today,” McGinnis said.

The renovated walkway is expected to reopen in about a year, though lake conditions will play a factor in how long the project takes.

Additionally, the Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy is raising funds to improve two lighthouses.

Grand Haven’s lighthouse and pier are the top attractions in Coast Guard City USA, according to TripAdvisor. The city’s North Pier remains open to visitors.

Online: Grand Haven pier live feed – EarthCamSave The Catwalk Grand Haven fundraising page

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