Many of the more than 40,000 registered boat owners in Hillsborough County use county maintained ramps to access the beautiful water that surrounds Tampa. In the next few months, five of these ramps are receiving major face lifts to make them safer and more convenient to use.
According to Jason Chilson, section manager with Hillsborough County’s Conservation and Environmental Lands Management, the budget for these improvements is more than $2 million, mostly funded by local boater registration fees.
One of the ramps on the upgrade list is the popular Williams Boat Ramp in Ruskin, which was build in the 1970s and is used for between 15,000 and 20,000 launches a year.
“This ramp is so popular that when we realized it needed a face lift, we decided it would be a good idea to talk to the people who use it the most about what they would like to see,” said Chilson.
A fisherman who regularly used the ramp mentioned that it is hard for him to take his disabled son out on the water, so the idea for the ADA accessible dock was formed.
“We feel that when spending this amount of money, we want to make sure we do it the right way,” said Chilson, who explained that the budget for the repairs to this ramp alone is approaching $1 million.
Once construction begins on the Williams ramp in the next few months, the area will be closed to the public. The work is expected to take four months to complete.
Additional ramps scheduled to receive upgrades in Ruskin are the Commongood Boat Ramp, which will get a new dock system and extensive sea wall repair, the Cockroach Bay Boat Ramp, which will see additional boat trailer parking, and the Domino Park Boat Ramp where pilings and decking will be replaced. The Alafia River Boat Ramp at 4104 Alafia Blvd. in Brandon, is also on the list to eventually receive a resurfaced parking lot and new seawall.
Hillsborough County boat ramps can be used by any boaters for a $5 entrance fee per use. Annual passes are also available.
For more information and a full list of county boat ramps, visit www.hcflgov.net or call 272-5900. Williams Boat Ramp is located at 8749 U.S. Hwy. 41 in Ruskin.