Nov. 18, 2019 – Structural engineers are reviewing damage to the James T. Wilson Fishing Pier after it was hit over the weekend by a barge that broke loose in high winds. They will also check to see if there was any damage from the storm to the Buckroe Observation Pier, which will remain closed pending that inspection. Parts of the fishing pier collapsed Sunday morning. No one was on it at the time, first responders cleared the area, and there were no injuries.
The effort to pull the barge away from the pier was slowed by the rising tide, and crews from Hampton Public Works, police and fire, plus the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the Coast Guard, worked on it for much of the day. The owner, with the assistance of the Coast Guard, was planning to try to tow the barge away early Monday afternoon.
Built in 2009, the pier is popular with fishermen from across Hampton Roads, as well as people from out of state. It has 36,500 visitors a year and brings in revenue of about $336,815 per year — a little more than its operating cost. A private fishing pier that was on the site was destroyed by Hurricane Isabel in 2003. The City of Hampton spent $4.1 million for the property and to construct a new pier and bait and snack shop. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission contributed $750,000.
The new pier is 706 feet long with shelters, cleaning stations and floodlights. In 2015, the Buckroe Fishing Pier was renamed the James T. Wilson Fishing Pier in honor of the city's retiring Parks and Recreation director. The fishing pier will remain closed until it can be rebuilt. There is no estimated timetable yet, but it is likely to be a lengthy process. The first step is for engineers to determine the extent of the damage.