WINFIELD — For boaters in the Winfield area, perhaps the second time will be the charm.
They thought they had it made when a new boat ramp opened near the Winfield Community Center, in the shadow of the Ross Booth Memorial Bridge. And for a couple of months, they did.
“But then we discovered that the launch ramp was not at the appropriate grade described in the plans,” said Zack Brown, federal aid coordinator for the state Division of Natural Resources.
Launch ramps are built to exacting specifications. The ideal gradient, Brown said, is 14 percent.
“That angle allows the boat to slide off the ramp without getting the [vehicle’s] tires too wet,” he explained. “The way the Winfield ramp was originally built, the gradient was too gentle and cars were having to back out a long way [into the Kanawha River].”
Fortunately for the DNR, engineers caught the mistake before all the work on the site was finished and the bonds were released.
“The contractor was very accommodating,” Brown said. “In August, they tried to correct the grade, but some of the concrete fractured. After that, they agreed to pour a whole new slab.”
The ramp has been closed since a little after Labor Day, generally recognized as the end of the boating season. The contractor, Dan Hill Construction of Glen Ferris, has taken out the old slab and has poured a new one. After the concrete cures, the new slab will be moved into place at the proper 14 percent gradient.
DNR officials expect the ramp to get plenty of use next year. The completed facility will feature a two-lane launch ramp, a parking lot with room for 50 vehicles (37 with trailers, 13 with car-top boats), and a sizable courtesy dock.
Brown said if weather and river conditions permit, the work should be fully completed some time in early December.
“Once the concrete has cured, the as-built surveys have been performed and the contractor has left, the ramp will be reopened,” he added.
Boaters will be able to use the ramp as soon as it reopens.