Pilings snap at Oak Bluffs Steamship pier

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A piling snapped and broke a railing at the Oak Bluffs pier Wednesday. - Ron Zentner

Two pilings being replaced at the Oak Bluffs Steamship Authority (SSA) pier snapped on Wednesday, one of them breaking a section of the pier’s railing.

SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll told The Times that Coastal Marine Construction has been working to repair the pier in Oak Bluffs, and is in the process of replacing old pilings with fresh ones. Driscoll said two piles snapped in separate incidents. The first one snapped at 9:15 am, and the second one, which snapped early in the afternoon, fell onto the pier railing and broke it. No one was injured in either incident.

The two piles snapped at the same location, at about 45 feet down, according to Driscoll, and the construction company is exploring a solution. Driscoll suggested the culprit might have been old riprap buried underneath the sand at the bottom of the harbor that was putting up resistance as the piles were being driven.

Minimal damage was done to the pier, Driscoll said. Any damage will be taken care of by Coastal Marine Construction, he said. “There is very little damage to the pier itself, but any damage that was done will be covered,” Driscoll said. 

And Driscoll noted that there are plenty of piles on hand, so the construction progress in Oak Bluffs will not be halted. “We have enough piles to continue work there. We won’t need to order any more,” Driscoll said. 

A Coastal Marine employee told The Times at the job site the pilings appeared to have hit an obstruction, but did not characterize what the obstruction might be, or fully back an obstruction as being the cause of the piling damage. 

Rich Saltzberg contributed to this report. -ed