How long does it take to build a boat ramp?

Flow chart timeline to building/repairing a boat ramp.

Flow chart timeline to building/repairing a boat ramp.

I bet you’ve even wondered why it seems to take “forever” to replace a boat ramp or if your concern went in one ear and out the other (which it doesn’t!).   But did you know that the average boat ramp project takes nearly three and a half years to complete?

Replacing a boat ramp takes lots of patience, planning, finances and dedication.  Before the agency can even begin talking about replacing or repairing a boat ramp, we need a facility owner who is willing to invest staff time, funding, and resources over several years.   Ideally, the facility owner needs to plan ahead for the boat ramp which generally takes five to six years before the need becomes critical or has potential of becoming a safety hazard.

The biggest hurtle in extending the timetable is the permitting process to replace a boat ramp.  There are, on average, 16 state, federal and local agencies that review and provide comments on the permit application.  With all of these eyes on an application, there are bound to be other delays.  The permit process doesn’t even include comments from other interested parties, such as the Audubon Society or Willamette Riverkeepers, who are also given an opportunity to weigh in on their opinions.

Another potential snag is getting the construction permits before the in-water work window closes.  This is a limited timeframe and is also weather-dependent.  If the in-water work window is missed, then the improvements are pushed back another year. With any luck, the permits won’t expire before the next opportunity.

In order to keep many projects moving forward while awaiting permits, upland improvements such as restroom or parking will often be completed while the boat ramp project is going through the three and a half year process. Installing restrooms doesn’t take a lot of time or resources, and this is why they are often completed before any ramp repair.  This also demonstrates to the boating public that there’s forward progress and momentum on the overall facility improvements.

Boaters can do a lot in cooperation with the Marine Board when you have a complaint or discover a boat ramp safety issue:

  • The Marine Board encourages you to contact the facility owner and let them know why repairing the boat ramp should be a priority. Remember, the first step is a willing facility owner to apply for a grant.
  • Contact the Marine Board’s Boating Facilities Program directly.  We can provide additional information and review if the facility has already been identified for improvements in the agency’s Boating Facilities 6-Year plan.
  • Send an email (marine.board@state.or.us) with photos, describe water conditions and your observations.  This is a tremendous help and opens the door for us to reach out to the facility owner.

We take safety seriously, whether it is improving access for you to launch, retrieve or moor your boats short-term, and even when you’re recreating on water.  From the time you enter a facility to the time you leave, it should be safe, clean, and easy.

M. James Gleason Boat Ramp on the Columbia River. This facility had four phases and took nearly 20 years to complete.

M. James Gleason Boat Ramp on the Columbia River. This facility had four phases and took nearly 20 years to complete.

 

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4 thoughts on “How long does it take to build a boat ramp?

  1. “16 state, federal and local agencies that review and provide comments on the permit application”

    Government at it’s finest! Let’s see how excrutiatingly long we can make this process…

    Like

    • It’s all of the federal permits that take the most time. Because endangered species laws and other legislation change so frequently, this also adds to the permitting timeline.

      Like

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