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State Road 64/29th Street East boat ramp nears completion

MANATEE — For years, those launching their boats at the Braden River boat ramp would watch their trailers dip and wobble as they backed toward the water. A large hole at the end of the ramp, dug out by the propellers of large boats, was a long-time menace.

Construction has been under way at the boat ramp off 29th Street East and State Road 64 for just more than six months. Alan Lai Hipp from Manatee County Natural Resources expects the ramp to be open for operation on July 3.

On Tuesday, tractors were leveling dirt as they finished the parking lot, the final major stage of the $300,000 reconstruction process. The site is revamped with a new dock, decking, pilings and a longer ramp. The parking lot will have a 30-foot drive aisle and a lot that will provided spaces for 30 trailers, plus plenty of standard vehicle parking.

“This will make parking better for everybody,” said Tom Levandoski, a foreman from Superior Asphalt.

The parking lot consists of “57” rock, which are small, white rocks that allow water to drain through.

“From my understanding,” Levandoski said, “it’s so there won’t be chemicals in the wetlands. A lot of people use this boat ramp. It’s good to see the county spending money on this stuff.”

Before construction began, some anglers would hang around the dock and complain about the status of the ramp, calling it dangerous, and even a “joke.”

The ramp has long been popular and convenient for boaters because of its location, providing entrance to the northern-most point of the Braden River, where it empties into the the Manatee River.

“I think people are going to be happy, especially with the ramp,” Lai Hipp said. “The previous ramp was in bad shape.”

Although the boat ramp is expected to be operational by July 3, there likely will be a few minor details to work on, such as the addition of a native vegetation landscape.

Nick Walter, Herald staff writer, can be reached at 745-7013.