MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – It’s a day that people have been waiting on for nearly four years.
The iconic Springmaid Pier fully reopened on Friday just in time for the Fourth of July holiday weekend after it was heavily damaged during Hurricane Matthew back in 2016.
Construction began on the pier in May 2019, and it was expected to reopen on June 1, but a lightning strike to a crane pushed back the reopening date.
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The Springmaid Pier was one of the longest piers on the east coast, and the redevelopment has returned it to its previous length of 1,068 feet.
To better protect the pier from future storm damage, the pier will be reinforced with steel instead of timber and will be raised at the end to combat future storm surge.
Perhaps the people that are the happiest that it’s reopened are the fishermen.
“We’re here because it’s my birthday,” said Brenda Elam, who went fishing at the pier on its first day after reopening.
Cynthia Mandac-Clark, Elam and their boyfriends made the trip out to Springmaid Pier during its grand reopening to go fishing.
Elam became one of the first people to ever reel in a fish on the new pier.
“It was awesome, especially when we are in competition with the men-folk out here and right now the ladies are in the lead,” said Elam.
The Hilton DoubleTree, which owns the pier, hopes those are the first of many fish to be caught on this new pier.
“We were pushing real hard to get open by the Fourth of July,” said Hilton DoubleTree General Manager Mike Frits. “We know we’ve got a lot of visitors here and a lot of locals that want to get out and spend a little of beach time this weekend. We’re very excited.”
The new pier was built to help it withstand the next hurricane.
“Built a little higher off the water to keep it out of the wave damage from future storms,” said Frits. “Built a little narrower to allow it to flex a little more on the water.”
The 150 benches on the pier are spaced eight feet apart, so people can keep their social distance while fishing or relaxing on the pier.
Southern Tide, the restaurant at the base of the pier, is also back open and the gift shop will open in the next few days.
“We’re also adding a few other amenities as we go forward. There will be a shaved ice vendor out there. There will be a photo vendor out there, plus a few other things yet to come,” Frits said.