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The Surfside Beach Easter sunrise service is held beside the town pier on Sunday. The service had been cancelled for a few years because of COVID-19 restrictions. It included three churches – Grand Strand Community Church, Surfside United Methodist and First Baptist of Surfside. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

The contractor and engineers tasked with rebuilding the Surfside Beach Pier now say the new pier probably won’t be open until the end of the year, if not later.

On Wednesday morning, the Surfside Beach Town Council held a workshop with all the parties involved with the pier to find out what’s going on with the construction and why completion has been delayed from the original target dates.

The pier was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The town has worked with FEMA, the state and other revenue sources to come up with the $18 million for the stronger concrete pier.

Representatives from Consensus Construction, the contractor for the pier, engineers from Collins Engineers and LS3P Associates and consultants from Leitner Management Group faced questions from town administrator William Shanahan and town council members.

Shanahan was first out of the gate asking the parties when the pier will be completed.

John O’Brien of Consensus said it was actually a complex question.

“We submit an impact schedule and an accelerated working schedule,” he said. “We think somewhere around the end of the year.”

He confirmed to Shanahan that could be between Dec. 15 and February.

Later, O’Brien said other delays could always push those dates out even further.

All parties said issues with siding panels for the buildings on the pier, a problem with handrails on stairs and design modifications have caused some of the delays.

The handrail issue was a major concern for several of the council members. The original plans called for lighted handrails on the steps heading up to the pier. According to the engineers, these were inadvertently removed from the plans and now they have to redesign and order them.

Another issue that may cause some delays may come with the actual pilings under the pier.

“There’s a possibility we may have to drive some of the pilings in the ocean deeper than we had expected,” O’Brien said. “We won’t know that until we get out there and see how far down the hard rock level is.”

Councilman Chris Stamey peppered the panel with the most questions, especially about the hold up as it relates to the Surf Diner.

“They had a deadline to get their changes in and I don’t see why we’re having to wait for them,” Stamey said. “Every time I turn around, I hear about problems and more problems coming up.”

Dan Campbell of Collins Engineers said there are mostly small items left to be redesigned or looked at.

Shanahan reassured the council that any extra costs incurred by changes to the Surf Diner will be picked up by the restaurant owners, not the town.

He also asked the group if they saw anything on the horizon that might drastically increase the cost of the new pier.

On a project of this magnitude, O’Brien said getting the final product within 5-10% of the original bid price is "a win.”

In February, O’Brien told the town council that everything was moving along and folks should be able to walk on the pier by the Fourth of July and the pier would be open for business in October, though some of the “bells and whistles” may not be ready until early 2023. Even then, he cautioned that most of the delays were related to issues with the Surf Diner.

After the workshop, Shanahan said there is a delay penalty built into the contract, though he couldn't recall specifics about it offhand because the contract was written before he was hired by the town.

The audience was not allowed to ask questions during Wednesday’s workshop. They will be allowed to ask questions about the pier and other issues Thursday at 6 p.m. at a citizens workshop at the town civic center where the town council currently meets.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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