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Bush Point launch damaged in storm

A hot charcoal barbecue started a fire in a home in the Ridgetop neighborhood July 28, destroying it and three cars. - CKFR Photo
A hot charcoal barbecue started a fire in a home in the Ridgetop neighborhood July 28, destroying it and three cars.
— image credit: CKFR Photo

The new boat launch ramp at Bush Point was damaged during the recent storms and may not open in April as originally planned.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife, which designed and built the ramp, is planning a damage assessment within the next two weeks.

The storm damage was the latest problem to hit the much beleaguered project. A variety of delays — administrative, construction and environmental — have plagued the boat launch since it was first envisioned by the port in 1998.

Port of South Whidbey commissioners planned to formally open the facility to boaters in April. But wind, waves and currents have combined to create havoc, especially to the north side of the ramp, said port manager Ed Field.

“The storm undercut at least a foot of sand under the pedestrian bulkhead, causing the inshore edge to settle and possibly throwing off the alignment for the floats,” Field said. “This is going to cause a major headache when the floats are re-attached in the spring.”

Fortunately, the port had the foresight to store its four 3,400-pound floats on port-owned property before the storms hit.

Also damaged were the concrete grid blocks on the ramp; about two dozen blocks were scattered over the beach after the recent round of storms. The ramp is a pre-cast concrete grid designed to provide traction for cars and boat trailers.

“In some places, the sand has been washed away 6 inches to a foot,” Field said.

Overall, at least 3 feet of beach has disappeared in the last three months.

“Even if the sand comes back, the damage is done. It’s going to make it very difficult to get the floats hooked up properly,” Field said.

Under the terms of a 35-year interlocal agreement between the port and the state, the Department of Fish and Wildlife designed, funded and built the ramp and the Port of South Whidbey will manage and maintain it.

Commissioners are not quite ready to accept the obligation, though.

“The design of the ramp is a failure,” said Port Commissioner Rolf Seitle. “We don’t know where we’ll go from here, but we can’t accept taking responsibility under the circumstances.”

An update on the project will be discussed at the next Port of South Whidbey meeting, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, at the newly-renovated Freeland Library.

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