ANNA MARIA ISLAND -- The Kingfish boat ramp will be partially closed for about six weeks for repairs beginning Wednesday, but county officials consider it a temporary fix until a major re-do begins in the second half of 2015.
The boat ramp at 752 Manatee Ave. W. will remain open throughout this year's repairs but one or more launch lanes will be closed at times while work is done on adjacent docks, said Nick Azzara, county information outreach manager.
The aging eastern dock section was recently damaged by a large vessel or barge, he said.
Crews will replace the understructure and decking of the ramp docks, according to Alan Lai Hipp, environmental program manager with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department.
"Boaters and fishermen will have access to the park throughout the repairs," Lai Hipp said. "We understand how popular the Kingfish ramp is and the importance of keeping it functional while the repair work is conducted. We ask that boaters remember that the ramp will be operating at a reduced capacity and that they should exercise caution when launching or landing their vessels."
Repairs this year will cost $43,862 and be paid for through Manatee County's Boating Improvement Fund and the West Coast Inland Navigation District, officials said.
The immediate job is small potatoes compared with the major renovation in 2015, said Lai Hipp.
"We already know from a structural assessment of the seawall that it is at the end of its life," he said.
The seawall must be replaced along with work on the dock, concrete pilings and composite decking and possibly expanding the launch ramp from three lanes to four, he said.
"The footprint of the docks themselves will change in a major re-do," said Lai Hipp.
A cost estimate for the 2015 project is not yet available.
To accommodate boaters, county officials plan to expand the nearby Coquina South boat ramp parking lot this fall, he said.
"We've planned it that way. The expanded Coquina South boat ramp will provide overflow when we have to close Kingfish," said Lai Hipp.
The repairs needed at Holmes Beach boat ramp disturb Mary Ann Brockman, president of the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce.
"It's going to impact greatly the residents and tourists here," she predicted.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.