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Ashland’s new boat ramp progresses

December 11, 2011

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Greater Ashland Beacon.

By Chris Erwin

When I heard that the city was going to develop the 47th street boat ramp, I couldn’t be happier. The boat ramp at the new Veterans Memorial Riverfront Park has had its problems. From reports, its location is problematic with undercutting current and silt, so an alternate location may prove to be a wise choice.

While a survey of Ashlanders may not have pin-pointed the need for an upgraded boat ramp, sometimes a survey doesn’t reach the right people.

The Ashland boat ramp has had problems for a long time before the construction of the new riverfront park. The ramp had no wind protection, and the end of the ramp dropped off making it a trailer killer. For this reason, many people that wanted to put in the water with any boat larger than a bass boat would usually drive to the Little Sandy ramp in Greenup.

I am a supporter of the riverfront park, and I am in no way knocking the efforts there. As a matter of fact, I think it’s one of the bright spots in our town. However, the construction of the 47thstreet ramp will be a welcome addition to launching a boat on this side of the river.

By Chris Erwin. Construction continues at Ashland's new 47th Street boat ramp.

The river has for most of my life been a place for commercial concerns. The fishing and recreational value have been limited because of pollution. While I’m not a bit happy that we have lost many of our factories that line the banks of the Ashland-Greenup pool, it has given birth to new life on the Ohio River.

The fishing is getting better every year. The water is cleaner and supporting life that I haven’t seen in all my years of fishing it. As I have told you in other articles, I grew up on the banks of the river. My parents lived in a little place called Sandy City just inside Catlettsburg, only blocks from 47thstreet. We moved to South Ashland when I started the 6th grade and as kid I fished the little cove where the 47th street ramp is going in. It has long been a hot spot for catfish.

Katie Brandenburg, with The Independent, covered this story back in October. At that time, city manager Steve Corbitt stated that contracted concrete work should be completed before winter and that he expected the project to cost the city about $19,000 once the underwater concrete work was done. Brandenburg also reported that the city would use its current contractor for paving work for the ramp leading up to the park’s parking lot.

City officials now say that high water and continued rains have made it hard to keep things on schedule. I spoke to Marion Russell, public works director, this week and he told me that while things have been going to slow with all the late-season rains, they still hope to have the ramp ready for public use sometime this coming spring.

Russell said they have poured some of the concrete ingots that make up the underwater portion of the ramp. Once all of them are made, and the water returns to the low levels normally seen in the winter and early spring, they will be able to construct the underwater section of the ramp. The road directly off of 47thstreet is a construction road at this time, but will be expanded as the project comes to completion, along with parking and upgrades to the playground connected to the ramp area.

Upon my inspection of the ramp, it is easy to see that with some dredging the cove alongside the ramp would be a perfect place for a small marina.

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