Safety warning before Grand Haven pier reopens

Ottawa County

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — As a construction project that dragged on well past its initial end date finally wraps up, the south pier at Grand Haven is on schedule to reopen within the next few days.

The final piece of concrete will be laid Wednesday morning. After a few other touch-ups, chain-link fences blocking the breakwater should be removed Friday.

“It feels good. It’s nice not to have a bunch of people ask me, ‘When’s the pier going to be done?'” said Tom O’Bryan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was in charge of the project.

But he also has a warning. Lake Michigan water levels have risen since the last time people were able to walk the entire length of the picturesque pier. That means there may be dangers even locals aren’t used to.

“Three- to five-footers might go over top the structure, where in the past it might not have,” O’Bryan said. “So we always have the dangers associated with the pier that we want to get out there.”

The construction project was supposed to be done last year, but unexpected structural problems and high water levels pushed back the completion date and the bumped up the cost. In the end, it took $3.6 million and 2,000 cubic yards of concrete to complete a rebuild of the pier.

“People fish from them (the piers), people jog on them, they’re riding their bikes out there and they’re just enjoying the sunsets and the cool breeze that you get out on the lake,” O’Bryan said. “So it’s a big thing for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. …. Just like any road construction project, once it’s open everyone is happy.”

The pier repairs are expected to last 50 years.

The city is encouraging people to come out and picnic Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to celebrate the reopening. Tables and chairs will be provided, but you will need to bring your own food and drink.

The pier’s historic catwalk, which was removed while construction was underway, isn’t expected to be reinstalled until next spring.

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