New Cedar Key boat ramp under way

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By Ashley Thornton

Special to the Beacon

After two-and-a-half years in the works, the project to put in the new, outside boat ramp in Cedar Key is finally taking shape.

 According to police chief and interim public works official, Virgil Sandlin, the original completion date was set for the first week in September, but is now looking to be closer to mid-September. Dredging is complete and they’re hoping to be ready to pour the concrete later this week. In the meantime, the original outside ramp is still being utilized.

“It’s long overdue and we’re looking forward to getting it open,” said Sandlin of the project he believes will increase the ease of getting boats in and out and potentially draw more people to Cedar Key. “It will be a lot more convenient for fishermen.”

The new ramp will feature a 60-foot fixed dock on the west side and a floating dock on the east side. They have been staged and are ready to be installed. The fixed dock will also include a pump-out station for larger boats with on-board facilities. The parking lot will also contain more handicap parking spaces.

The $550,000 grant was delayed for a time, but finally received approval. Bids were made for the job by three different contractors ranging from $780,000 to $1.1 million. The city went with Cabot Construction out of Gainesville, the company offering the lowest bid, and negotiated the price down to approximately $660,000, which left the city coughing up an additional $160,000. 

“Sacrifices were made by the company and the city,” said Sandlin. In speaking of some of the concessions that were made, Sandlin explained that at first the ramp was intended to have concrete sides, but now they will be coated sheet piling.

The city of Cedar Key is also receiving another grant for approximately $280,000. that will pay for a new restroom facility near the boat ramp. Once the restroom is complete, any remaining funds will be used to retrofit the five business kiosks that line the east side of the parking lot between the new ramp and the public beach. They have a year to complete the project and Sandlin said it will likely be complete by August or September of next year.