City closes breakwater for the winter

Officials agree that recently improved structure is too dangerous after December gale turns it into a skating rink, rips railing gate off hinges

    Port Washington’s north breakwater is closed for the winter, City Administrator Mark Grams said Tuesday.
    Winter conditions, including a buildup of ice, have made the structure too dangerous to keep open, he said.
    The city has placed barricades at the entrance to the breakwater, Grams said, and is expected to place signs there as well.
    “Right now, it’s just all ice,” he said. “You would have to be an idiot to go out there.”
GATE    Although mild temperatures early this week meant much of the snow and ice on city streets and sidewalks melted, Lake Michigan’s waves are expected to continue to coat the breakwater with ice, Grams noted.
    The strong winds and a buildup of ice are likely to blame for the fact a gate near the entryway to the breakwater was recently ripped from its hinges, Grams said.
    “We probably should have taken it off earlier,” he said. “I think it was a combination of waves and ice that caused it.”
    The gate, which is at the top of stairs extending to the water, was placed on the breakwater at the behest of Port Deco Divers so it can train divers there, Grams said.
    Anyone who falls into the lake can also use the stairs to climb onto the breakwater, he noted.
    While the gate gave way in last week’s stormy weather, Grams noted that the new railing is intact.
    “That’s the important thing,” he said.
    The gate sustained little damage, Grams added.
    “It just needs some new hinges,” he said.
    That’s good news, since the city has spent the last several years making improvements to the breakwater.
    The most recent improvement, completed this year, enhanced the entry to the breakwater by adding the decorative railing as well as a new surface and a handicapped-accessible entrance on the west end of the breakwater.
    The city is continuing to seek funds to enhance the entrance to the breakwater, as well as structural improvements to the far east end of the walkway.
    The Army Corps of Engineers is also scheduled to make structural improvements to the south breakwater next year.



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