State agrees to rebuild too-skinny boat ramp
At 12 feet wide, that new Tiverton Basin boat ramp may meet minimum standards, but it's too tight for comfort, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) now agrees.
So the DOT has come up with a new design for the ramp beneath the new Sakonnet River Bridge and intends to have a wider ramp ready for use next spring.
Dave Fish, a bridge design engineer with DOT, said that while 12 feet may meet those minimum launching ramp standards, after "seeing it after construction and getting feedback from the public," DOT decided to start anew.
They met a couple of times at the ramp with the contractor (Cardi Corporation), representatives of the state Department of Environmental Management (which typically handles state boat launching ramps) and some boaters.
"We agreed that with all the physical restraints there, that the 12-foot ramp was too tight," Mr. Fish said. "We are going to increase it to 18 feet."
They'll manage that by eliminating one row of floats along the north side of the ramp and removing a walkway at the top of the ramp, which involves digging up concrete and then repairing he surface "to make a smooth approach to the ramp.
"All of this will give us the extra six feet that we need."
The 'courtesy dock' that runs parallel to and north of the ramp will remain.
Since Cardi is still doing remaining underwater bridge work at the site, the contract "remains open," which means the added work will cost about $80,000 atop the ramp's original price tag of just over $500,000.
Before work can begin, DOT must return to the state Coastal Resources Management Council for a revised permit. Actual work and reopening of the ramp will take place next spring.
The changes were worth doing, Mr. Fish said, "because "We want it to be a success for the community."
He said that DOT is pleased to learn that the handicapped accessible fishing pier alongside the ramp already seems to be getting daily use.
The ramp and fishing pier are part of a mini-waterfront park built at what was the staging point for construction of the Sakonnet River Bridge. And since some of the facility is actually beneath the new bridge, fishermen and other visitors can stay dry even in the rain. There are five parking spaces near the ramp and another 20 across Riverside Drive with space for trailers.
Although boaters have long hoped for another public launching ramp in Tiverton (the only other one is at Fogland), when the present ramp was first completed about six months ago, some reacted with dismay.
"Tiverton's new canoe ramp," a passing truck driver remarked as a Times photographer snapped pictures of the ramp.
Bob Parent said, "At 11 feet wide (several visitors said that was the width they measured) and minimum parking it certainly is disappointing. As for the handicap accessibility I don't see how that's going to work. It's beautiful in appearance, it looks expensive, but it is in my opinion a token ramp best suited for kayaks."
Others said it would be tough to enter from the water side given the tight quarters and fierce current.