Plans unveiled for renovated Mount Vernon boat ramp
By WILLIE GRAY
A renovated Mount Vernon boat ramp moved one step closer to becoming a reality last week when state Sen. Jack Williams (R-Wilmer) unveiled design plans.
For more than a decade, outdoorsmen using the ramp have called for improvements.
“This new design will ease the problems we have experienced at the Mount Vernon boat landing,” Williams said. “This is a very important project for a lot of people. There are a lot of people in Mobile and Washington counties that would love to be able to return to this launch and I think we are on our way toward making that happen.”
Williams said he expects the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to finalize the plans in the coming weeks and let bids for the project. No timeline has been released to begin construction.
Engineers have designed the new ramp to go south with the river’s flow.
“Anyone who has been to the current site knows one of the main problems is the area near the bottom of the ramp is full of debris that has been pushed into the area by the river,” Williams said. “This has not only prevented the boaters from using more than half of the ramp, it has caused a safety issue. As I understand, the focus of the ADCNR officials was to reverse the launch so that the river pushes the debris away from the ramp and makes the facility more user friendly.”
A concrete ramp approximately 260 feet long and 30 feet wide will allow two boats to be launched simultaneously. Some of the ramp’s lower portion will be protected by a jetty 10 feet wide and 90 feet long.
A floating aluminum pier 8 feet wide and 170 feet long will provide a walkway from the water level back to the top of the embankment and parking lot.
The plans also call for the installation of a parking area to accommodate 50 vehicles and boat trailers and a new 20-foot by 40-foot pavilion with handicapped-accessible sidewalks and a parking area.
The current aluminum pier will be removed but the concrete portion of the existing ramp will be left in place.
Williams first announced a $2 million allocation for the project last fall.
“I really hate that it has taken this long to get something fixed that should have been done years ago but enough is enough and the people at the conservation department understand that something had to be done,” Williams said. “We just all needed to figure out the best way to fund it and we were able to allocate $2 million of the BP oil-spill funds stemming from the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010.”
Williams said officials expect the project to go over budget “but at least it’s on the drawing board and we are getting everyone working together on it.”
Williams said the fact Mount Vernon is not in his district had little bearing on his commitment to the project and added he and Sen. Greg Albritton, who represents Mount Vernon, have a good working relationship.
“There are a lot of people who live in my district and all over the county who use that landing and they have reached out to me,” Williams said. “The main reason I am pushing forward to get this project funded is that I promised I would stay on top of it.”
Last November, Gov. Kay Ivey and ADCNR officials opened a boat ramp in Demopolis similar in size to the Mount Vernon boat landing. The Demopolis site has a four-lane boat launch with 53 paved parking spots, three handicapped parking spots, green-space parking for hundreds more and 250 feet of docking space.
According to the ADCNR, the Demopolis ramp cost $3 million and was also over budget.
“With this facility, Marengo County can now host regional and national bass tournaments to help promote access to these waters,” Ivey said at the time. “I fully expect to watch the tourism industry grow even more after the opening of this boat ramp here in Demopolis.”