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Contact: Brent Everitt, 850-934-2600
Gulf Breeze, Fla. – Gulf Islands National Seashore officials have closed the Battery Cooper Loop Road in the Fort Pickens Area effective immediately. An Architectural and Engineering firm conducted an inspection of the structural integrity and condition of the tower this week in preparation for a major restoration effort. Yesterday, officials received a recommendation to close the road and area surrounding the tower due to the questionable structural integrity of Tower 234, a World War II era spotting tower located along the Loop Road. The structural analysis was initiated as the first step in a restoration effort of the historic structure.
In addition to the vehicle traffic closure, visitors are advised to avoid the area around the tower and public programming at Battery Cooper has been cancelled. According to the structural analysis, two of the tower’s steel columns are failing and their complete failure would likely result in the collapse of the tower. The National Park Service has initiated efforts to erect emergency shoring; however the contract for shoring installation has not been awarded at this time. The area is expected to be closed for some time.
Superintendent Dan Brown stated, “if feasible, it is the intent of the Seashore to reopen the tower for public use once the restoration is complete. The views from the tower are beautiful and provide a wonderful prospective of the park and surrounding area”. The tower was built in 1943 along with the gun battery and range finders. The tower was retained by the state and later National Park Service while others along the coast were sold for scrape. In 2013, the tower was closed to the public due to safety concerns which prompted a 2015 Historic Structures Report and the current restoration effort.
About Gulf Islands National Seashore: Created in 1971, the national seashore stretches 160 miles along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida and Mississippi, and includes barrier islands, maritime forests, historic forts, bayous, and marine habitat. Visit us at www.nps.gov/guis, on Facebook www.facebook.com/GulfIslandsNPS, Twitter www.twitter.com/GulfIslandsNPS, and Instagram www.Instagram.com/GulfIslandsNPS.
About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 417 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice and Twitter www.twitter.com/natlparkservice.