Efforts to develop a new boat ramp and landing at Washington are on hold, at least for the near future.
“There’s not a lot being done on it at this time,” City Administrator Jim Briggs said.
A new boat landing at a safer location is one of the improvements outlined in the city’s comprehensive Washington Riverfront Plan adopted in 2005.
The city opened talks with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the necessary permits in 2009 with an eye toward seeking a grant through the Missouri Department of Conservation to fund construction of a two-lane ramp and make other improvements at Rennick Riverfront Park.
During preliminary discussions, Corps officials agreed with the preferred site several hundred feet downstream from the old sand plant on the riverfront.
Based on that, the city engineering department developed an initial plan that called for a two-lane boat ramp facing downstream which would make it safer to access the river.
Briggs said the proposed site is in the vicinity of the new riverfront meadow now under development.
While Corps and MDC officials appeared to be ready to approve the project, the U.S. Coast Guard never has signed off on it, Briggs said.
“Because of the location of the proposed ramp and the connection to the main channel, the Coast Guard has to review and approve it,” he noted.
Briggs said he understands that engineering personnel have had “conversations” with Coast Guard representatives but they have not been given the nod to proceed.
“I said don’t spend anymore time on this until we get all agencies to sign off on it,” Briggs said.
“If we do, then we could proceed with planning,” he added. “No funds have been appropriated for the project.”
In addition to building the new ramp, other improvements planned under the grant program would be paving of the large gravel lot where the sand plant had been located and lighting.
The Missouri Department of Conservation receives $7 to $8 million in federal funds each year for such programs and 15 percent of that is dedicated to waterway access development.
City officials met with conservation department representatives years ago and received positive feedback on the projectd. However, there was a three-year backlog on grants at that time due to a statewide fish hatcheries renovation program, she said.
Several years ago, the projected cost for the improvements was close to $700,000 but that likely would be more than $1 million now, depending on the scope of the work.
If a conservation department grant is approved, the city’s match would be 25 percent of the total cost.
Previous major improvements to the riverfront park were done with the aid of a conservation department grant.
The long-term riverfront plan also calls for other major improvements including a proposed marina facility, extension of the Rotary Riverfront Trail and a pedestrian overpass bridge at Market Street.
Briggs said the Washington Boat Club, not the city, has the Corps permit for the current boat ramp at the foot of Lafayette Street.
The plan would be to maintain the current ramp if the new landing is developed.
However, Briggs said it’s not certain if the Corps would permit two boat ramps that close together.