Traverse City Record-Eagle

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December 19, 2013

Newsmakers: High winds, ice stymied pier construction

EDITOR’S NOTE: Newsmakers 2013 profiles people, places and events that made news in the Grand Traverse region during the past year.

TRAVERSE CITY — High winds and frigid temperatures pushed the completion of a new pier at Northwestern Michigan College to next spring.

“They actually had targeted to have it completed by the end of this week,” said Ed Bailey, NMC’s harbor project manager. “But they can’t work in the high wind, and they lost a lot of time. When it turned cold, ice was the second most hazardous problem for them. It really limited their ability to work.”

Construction is about three weeks behind, extending the completion date to May 1. This week, Team Elmer’s will infill the piling — about 75 percent complete — with rocks and wrap its work for the year.

The harbor, prone to sand build-up over the years, serves the Great Lakes Maritime Academy and the Great Lakes Fresh Waters Studies program. Students in both programs train on education and research vessels that moor in the harbor, including the 210-foot State of Michigan, with a draft of about 15 feet.

Harbor renovation will allow more vessels to get in and out of the harbor, meaning students can engage with new research projects and equipment.

“Their delay has no impact to our operations, whatsoever,” Bailey said. “The weather slowed down the progress. As we were all suffering through this winter, so are the poor guys who are trying to complete the work out there.”

The plan calls for demolishing the dilapidated, hook-shaped eastern break wall that allows sand to build up in the harbor and limits the number of vessels that can moor within. The new, straight break wall will measure 250 feet long by 22 feet wide, Bailey said.

Workers completed about half the dredging — enough to allow equipment into the harbor — and moved about 15,000 cubic yards of sand about 1.5 mile west to waters fronting the beach where M-22 and M-72 intersect at about a five-foot depth. An estimated total of 30,000 cubic yards of sand ultimately will be moved there.

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