The sailing season is creeping up on May 10th.
And despite the lack of landscaping, the SS Badger’s new and improved Manitowoc dock is just about ready for its first ship.
It is a $9-million job with a tight deadline, but luckily a hundred-year old family-run contractor is right in town.
“Projects like this are kind of right up our alley,” said Ted Jennejohn, project manager at McMullen & Pitz.
The old dock was well beyond its life expectancy.
“They’ve kind of been limping by over the last few years putting Band-Aids on it,” he said. “But it needed to be replaced.”
The SS Badger pretty much acts as a continuation of Highway 10 across Lake Michigan. And it has historical value.
“The SS Badger is the last coal-fire steam ship operating on the Great Lakes,” said Jennejohn.
Earlier in the year, violent waves ravaged the coastline, wrecking a nearby navigational beacon.
The Coast Guard plans to have a temporary beacon up by Memorial Day.
But a full replacement will cost close to $300,000 and take about two years to put in place.
Beacon or no beacon, that will not delay the Badger.
“I haven’t heard anything from the Badger folks about needing it for navigation purposes,” he said.
In fact, the new systems will speed the Badger up.
The old wall is mostly wooden and did not make for smooth docking.
The new steel wall acts like a big shock absorber.
“They’ll be able to push up against this fender system and rely upon it in order to dock and that’s going to make their operation a lot more stress-free, headache-free, and quick and safer,” said Jennejohn.
The SS Badger will test the new dock on May 9th.