SSA approves repairs to storm damaged Oak Bluffs terminal

Sandy generated waves battered the Oak Bluffs pier when the storm struck in October. — File photo by Diana Waring

The Steamship Authority (SSA) members authorized general manager Wayne Lamson to move ahead with $2.5 million in repairs to the Oak Bluffs ferry terminal pier, damaged when hurricane Sandy roared up the coast in late October and generated powerful waves that battered the Island.

High seas damaged the main section of the terminal’s pier, Mr. Lamson told the SSA members at their meeting Tuesday in Woods Hole, according to a management summary of the gathering. There was damage to piles, pile caps, stringers, decking, railings, lighting, electrical conduits and wiring.

“In an effort to minimize damage to the pier during future severe weather events, repair work for the pier has been redesigned with steel piles and pile caps in place of the failed pier that was built of wooden members,” the report said. “In addition, the pier is being designed to have the decking be the weak link in the design, allowing the deck planking to give way when extreme sea water pressure is exerted from underneath the pier.”

The contractor will be required to complete all the work so that the terminal is ready to open by the beginning of the 2013 summer schedule on May 16. Federal funds from the Hurricane Sandy Relief Act will reimburse up to 75 percent of the costs. The terminal was completely rebuilt at a cost of approximately $15 million over a three-year span from 2007 to 2009.

SSA management also gave the board an update on the SSA’s website redesign project. The new website is expected to be launched within the next six weeks, although the exact launch date will depend on how the final testing goes over the next two weeks and how quickly the SSA can resolve any remaining issues, according to the management report.

“The SSA’s objectives in developing the new website have been to improve the website’s overall appearance, to make the website more user-friendly for both island residents and visitors, to enhance the SSA’s marketing capabilities, and to provide information that can be filtered by island or targeted to certain groups such island residents or visitors,” the management report said.

The regular monthly meeting of the boatline and the first of the new year began with a moment of silence for Nantucket member H. Flint Ranney, who died last month. It was also the first meeting for his son and newly appointed Nantucket member Robert Ranney.

In other business, the members agreed to participate in the Massachusetts Ferry Transportation Compact, which will include various water transportation stakeholders throughout the coastal communities of Massachusetts.

The SSA also awarded a contract for the demolition of the old Falmouth ice rink for $141,654.25. The SSA purchased the property from the Falmouth Youth Hockey League in 2011 and is demolishing the building in order to create additional parking at the SSA’s Palmer Avenue parking lot. The demolition is scheduled to begin next week.