Fish on Friday: Big Dock will be open for Clamerica

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By Jenna McKenna

The Big Dock is this close. Cedar Key's iconic fishing pier will be open for anglers this July 4 weekend, although Lucas Marine Construction project manager Louis Diotte says about three weeks' worth of work remain before Levy County can throw its big "Welcome Home" party.

"You want to know how long til we're totally done? Outta here?" he asked. "I guess you're gonna hold me to it. I'd make a real educated guess and say the end of July should be pretty close."

On Tuesday, the construction crew was sweeping up debris and leftover material and cutting steel casings off concrete pilings with a torch. One of the four large benches had been assembled and bolted into place, and about 80 percent of the heavy aluminum handrails had been installed.

Diotte said they'd finish installing the handrails before the temporary opening, or make sure the surface was otherwise secure.

"We might have to close one of these finger docks, but they can fish on it Friday," he said.

Diotte says there are some odds and ends left on the project, like roofing and tiling the restrooms. He'll be happy to put the final touches on the dock and give it back to Cedar Key residents and visitors, who can't wait to get their feet on the decking.

"We've been working 11 1/2 - 12 hours a day to get it ready for this weekend," he said. "Everybody we've talked to says they'll be glad when it gets done."

Although he has heard that some residents are unhappy with the size of the rebuilt Big Dock - it's five feet higher than before - Diotte says no one has complained to him.

"I think they just want to get back to using it again."

City Commissioner Sue Colson said Friday's Clamerica festivities should prove a great shakedown for all the city's facilities.

"It's a lot bigger than last year, it looks like," she said. "They're promoting it all the way up in Atlanta.