JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On Tuesday, beachgoers noticed the first sign of work to repair the Jacksonville Beach Pier since it was torn apart by Hurricane Matthew.

A crew run by the organization Marine Specialists Limited are in Jacksonville working on the pier for the next six to eight weeks.

The crew’s survey boat unanchored and washed ashore Tuesday. They were able to keep all of their equipment in the boat safe thanks to help from Jacksonville Beach lifeguards.

The marine specialist were hired by the city of Jacksonville’s insurance company and they have been coordinating efforts with Jacksonville Public Works to assess the damage and get a cost estimate. Their assessment is separate from the city’s assessment of the pier back in November of 2016.

The crew will establish their own findings so that when a contractor is finally chosen to take on the pier’s reconstruction the insurance company can be ready with how much they can cover.

These specialists have been going up and down the east coast analyzing storm damage following Hurricane Matthew, doing the same work for other cities. They can’t share their work with the public since it has to do with a city structure. The same goes for the city’s assessment report because city structures are protected by Homeland Security.

The city has narrowed down the bids to work on the pier to four construction companies.
Three are local: R.S. & H., Wwantman Group Inc., and Taylor Engineering Inc. The fourth company is based in the Florida panhandle: Bakersville-Donovan Inc.

The city says there is no timeline yet for picking a contractor and they expect the pier to be closed down for the majority of this year. They ask that people stay at least 300 feet away from the pier while crews collect data. In the coming weeks the crews working for the city will be using sonar imaging, various engineers, dive teams, drones and other task forces to analyze the damage before their work is complete.

Previously the city told First Coast News the damage was more than they expected.