FORT NORFOLK, Va. – For years, Mother Nature’s fury has steadily eroded the structural integrity of the Fort Norfolk pier and wharf area, seriously degrading its operational effectiveness and jeopardizing its safe operation.
Broken, crumbling and missing pilings; deteriorating pier foundation; wharf top cap rotten away; mooring fasteners and piling bolts – gone!
That was then.
Today, new state-of-the-art structural upgrades are expanding the facility’s operation and extending its useful life for up to 15 years.
Those upgrades to the Fort Norfolk pier and wharf, completed in May, paid immediate dividends during the 2012 OpSail Parade and Sail and the War of 1812 Bicentennial celebrations, held in early June. Six U.S. Navy vessels docked and nested here, offering the public several days of open house vessel tours throughout the weeklong festivities.
“The Army Corps of Engineers pier at Fort Norfolk is simply beautiful,” said Lt. Cmdr. Marc Devine, commander of the USS Monsoon (PC 4). “It provides a very safe mooring for smaller vessels, is well lit, and numerous guests commented on the smartness of the facility’s landscaping. The new concrete walkways also provided our guests safe and easy access to our ships.”
The Fort Norfolk Bulkhead and Pier Repair project, under the design and construction management of Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, began work in October 2011, and was completed ahead of schedule and more than $150,000 under budget.
The Corps’ prime contractor, Team Henry Enterprises, LLC, based in Newport News, Va., is an 8A minority-owned small business. The project marked the first time Team Henry had performed work for Norfolk District, but their land work experience extended to other federal and state agencies.
Completing the project ahead of schedule and below budget was no surprise to Steven Baum, Norfolk District’s project manager.
“Team Henry did a super job,” Baum said. “They kept the cost down by working efficiently and were able to pass those cost-savings on to us. They required very little daily oversight and were extremely well organized and professional. Anytime there was a problem, all I had to do was raise an eyebrow and they just took care of it.”
“This was a highly successful project, due in large part to proper planning and the ‘Team’ approach Team Henry takes with all of its projects,” said Devon M. Henry, Team Henry CEO and president. “That approach requires that everyone communicate, be responsive and willing to work together to reach the common goal. From our staff to the Corps’ fine professionals to our dedicated subcontractors -- they didn’t disappoint!”
The Fort Norfolk Bulkhead and Pier Repair project consisted of two separate issues.
“Our pier is the primary mooring for our patrol boats and survey vessels,” Baum said. “The pier had sustained so much damage that 50 percent of its pilings were either broken or missing. The structure underneath the pier was completely deteriorated, which resulted in tearing up our boats as they docked at the pier.”
The wharf area is the Fort’s secondary mooring. Baum explained that for the last couple of years they haven’t been able to tie up any of the district’s vessels or visiting ones there because the wharf’s top structure had completely deteriorated and no longer could support a vessel tie-up.
“The cap on top of the wharf had rotted away; it didn’t have any fasteners to moor to; most of the pilings were broken or missing; and the few that were still in place weren’t bolted in any longer,” Baum said. “When we no longer could tie up and safely moor our vessels, the district reached deep and hard and found funding to make repairs.”
Shortly after the repair project began last year, Hurricane Irene damaged the wave splash wall in front of the Corps’ Waterfield Building at Fort Norfolk. A large steel portion of the wall fell into the Elizabeth River near the fort’s flagpole, compromising the face of the seawall. The pavement surface in the same area also sustained damage. Additionally, storm debris washed ashore and destroyed approximately 25 percent of the security fence and a portion of the concrete sidewalk that runs along the seawall from the fort’s pier to the Waterfield Building.
Norfolk District requested and was authorized supplemental funding, as part of the Fort Norfolk Bulkhead and Pier Repair project, and repairs were made that had resulted from Hurricane Irene.
Once repairs were completed, a structural inspection of the cement pier was performed to ensure the pier was safe for operation.
“The structural inspection revealed that the pier is in good shape,” Baum said. “We’ll have minor repairs to address over the next five years, especially to the wharf area behind the guard shack, but we’re definitely open for business.”