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W♥V TOPIC: Part II of a Series on The Ventnor Fishing Pier:

W♥V TOPIC:  Part II – The 2003 Engineers' Reports on the Pier

Software: Microsoft OfficeIn a proposal dated September 26, 2002, consulting engineer Edward P. Ryan, PE recommended a two-phase investigation of the Ventnor Municipal Pier to Ventnor's Engineer Richard L. Carter, PE.   That proposal was executed on March 6, 2003, but only for the first phase it had recommended - consisting of a walk-thru inspection of the superstructure (decking) and a preliminary report which would exclude any observations of the substructure, below the water line.   

The second phase proposed by Ryan called for an inspection of the pilings, which Ventnor did not initially pursue.   Later on, after Carter and city administration discussed a visible broken piling under the clubhouse, a part of the second phase was also ordered.  

Ryan retained Pennoni Associates, Inc. to perform an underwater inspection and engineer Ray Mateer of that firm filed a June 2003 report on the findings of the underwater dive team. 

Pennoni identified pilings according to a system of letters and numbers assigned to each piling, consistent with a diagram Ryan had prepared of the general layout of the pier itself, with Section “G” at the end of the pier. 

Inspection was confined to piles in the water and the report notes that only Section E (under the club house) and Section G (east end) had all piles inspected.  One-third to one-half of the other underwater piles were inspected, and none of the piles outside the water area in a section designated “A” were investigated. 

For ease of review, a color chart depicting the findings about the inspected piles has been prepared by W♥V as drawn from 12 pages of the Pennoni Report.  The descriptions of each pile in that full report made note of checks, splits, section loss, estimation of hollowness, and various tests of hammer penetration in the tidal zone and at the mudline.    None of the piles was found to be in Good condition, and 49 of the 105 piles inspected showed such notable signs of deterioration that they fell into categories characterized as Fair to Poor, and Poor. 

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01Pennoni's engineer concluded: 

"Significant defects were noted throughout the structure.  Due to the conditions observed in the substructure during our underwater inspection, the following repairs should be made as soon as possible to maintain the safety of the pier and public, and to retard further deterioration: 

(1) Perform a structural analysis on the pier to determine the load capacity in order to provide safe access to the public under various weather and sea conditions.  Limit access to the pier under conditions as required.

(2) Rehabilitate or replace all piles which are indicated to be in poor condition.

 (3) Re-inspect pier on a 2 year cycle, or immediately after any heavy loading weather event, such as high wind or sea conditions."

Edward Ryan's report was filed shortly afterwards, on July 9, 2003, so that it could incorporate Pennoni’s findings into its overall recommendation. 

Ryan noted that 50% of the railing anchorages were missing or damaged, which made the railings "incapable of supporting any reasonable force or impact" with the conclusion that he deemed them "POOR and UNSAFE."  [Full caps were used by the engineer.]

The decking was classified POOR with tripping hazards and loose boards in localized places.  Noting the Pennoni findings about the pilings, Ryan recommended that all pilings classified as POOR be replaced as soon as possible, as they  were "subject to possible catastrophic damage" during storms even without any vertical (surface) loads. 

He also stated there should be reinspections after any heavy seas, and at least every two years. 

Ryan's recommendation was that the Clubhouse should be closed to any "congregation of persons" and that the extreme end of the pier should be vacated under moderate to severe winds and seas. 

He wrote: 

"Even though most of the people using the pier may be aware that the railings are in no condition to be leaned upon, the anchorages are in such poor condition that this is my major (everyday) concern relative to the safety of persons on the pier." 

He recommended placing restrictions on use of the pier for the rest of the summer 2003 season. The engineer suggested another 20 years of pier life could be obtained by replacing 65 pilings and all decking, resupporting or replacing stringers and girders, and installing new hardware. 

He estimated that cost would be $1.5 Million, and closed the report with a note that it was for the restricted use of its addressee (engineer Carter) and with a disclaimer of any claims against himself personally for damages or injuries to people going onto, or near, the pier.

Engineers have a special duty to make disclosures respecting public structures presenting known hazards. At the October 18 Commission hearing. Ventnor resident Lee Sirotta questioned whether engineer Carter or the Commissioners had been diligent enough since, apparently, none of the recommendations in the Ryan report were pursued nor did there appear to have been any special posted advisories to membership or one-time fee-paying pier users.

To download a Word document with a full copy of the two reports, click on the relevant links below.

June 2003 Pennoni Associates report (4.25MB)

July 2003 Edward Ryan report (2MB)

The next installment of this multi-part Series will look at the interesting twists and turns that were taken by the public bidding for the construction contract on the new pier.  There were two bid-lettings with a March 13th bid for $2.6 Million by Midlantic Marine later giving way to a second bidding in which R. A. Walters -- a contractor which had not submitted a bid at all in the first round -- emerged with the award for $3.2 Million.  Documents turned over by Ventnor pursuant to OPRA request are under review and a further OPRA request was planned, to seek clarification of discrepancies between what the OPRA papers show and what Ventnor citizens were told at the public hearing before the Commissioners’ vote.