Improvements planned for two Whitianga boat ramps. 19 December 2016 We're about to start the next step in Whitianga's Boat Ramp Strategy, which is looking to improve two boat ramps in Whitianga, to take pressure off the ramp at the town's wharf. Earlier this year the Mercury Bay Community Board supported the Whitianga Boat Ramp Strategy which set out the plan to improve existing boat and wharf facilities around the town. The plan looks at ways to help alleviate congestion at the Whitianga Wharf Boat Ramp, which is a busy area with tourists, ferry passengers and children. "There's been many investigations historically and proposals into possible sites for the development of a single "Destination Boat Ramp," to help cater to the growing number of recreational and commercial fishers and boaties," says Allan Tiplady, Council's Area Manager for Mercury Bay. "The conclusion is that no one site could provide this and the Dundas Street and Robinson Road ramps were then identified as priorities for development, as part of the approved Boat Ramp Strategy." The Dundas St and Robinson Rd ramps were chosen as they are existing structures in close proximity to the harbour and town. These two ramps also had support from the Stakeholders Working Group, (a group established approximately 18 months ago to get feedback and input on the Boat Ramp project), along with the Mercury Bay Community Board. The Community Board then allocated $635,000 towards the development and improvement of the two ramps which has allowed detailed design work to be completed. "We're now going back to stakeholders and residents to show the detailed design before we prepare to lodge any resource consents," says Mr Tiplady. This includes liaising with recreational and commercial boating communities, iwi, Coastguard, Whitianga Waterways, the Marina Society, the Mercury Bay Business Association, Rugby and Tennis clubs. "If we get support we would hope to start work on both boat ramps by autumn 2017," says Mr Tiplady. Dundas St boat ramp proposal The plan is to widen the ramp and extend it into the water by 9m to give a total length of 33m, allowing for more vessels to launch there in all tides, by creating a double ramp with a centre pontoon. The ramp will incorporate a small breakwater to assist with shelter to launching and retrieving vessels and reduce sediment build up. Vehicle and trailer parking will be supported by the adjacent existing harbour-side reserve areas. Earlier this year the channel by the Dundas Street boat ramp was dug and surveyed to measure the impact of sediment control. Starboard channel markers had been installed and dredging has occurred which has made it easier already for boat launching and retrieval. Robinson Rd boat ramp proposal The plan is to widen the ramp immediately adjacent to the existing ramp. The old ramp will remain unchanged. This will allow all users of the existing ramp facility to continue to use this as they always have while the new ramp will be at an appropriate grade to facilitate launching of larger vessels. The channel will be dredged from the ramp to the main river channel to enable all-tide use. There were insufficient funds within the approved budget to complete reclamation at either of the two sites. Future of Whitianga Wharf. Council will be looking at the future of the wharf which would be addressed in the long-term 2018-2028 plan. Long-term the plan is to facilitate the objective of closing the Wharf boat ramp, so a third facility will most likely be required. However before a final decision is made the usage and demand for the upgraded ramps at Dundas Street and Robinson Road, along with on-going usage of the Wharf ramp, will be monitored to assess the capacity in relation to the usage In the short-term there will be improvements to address pedestrian and traffic safety around the wharf and boat ramp, which are being included within the Town Centre Upgrade project. This will include pedestrian access road markings and lane lines in place. Click here for more information on the Whitianga Boat Ramp Strategy.