Little Beach boat ramp will be closed for at least three months beginning in May while a $2 million upgrade is carried out to extend the popular water access point.
The Nelson Bay boat ramp has long been dogged by complaints from users about being covered in sand and too short to reach deep water at low tide, causing vehicles, often with boat trailers attached, to become bogged.
The upgrade project, funded by the NSW Government and Port Stephens Council, will include the construction of a new raised and longer boat ramp, new accessible toilets, beach showers and improved pedestrian access.
"This means less bogged cars and a better experience for all of our local boaters and visitors. I know it can't come soon enough for many in our community who love to enjoy the water at this incredible place," Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer said.
Transport for NSW provided $1.67 million for the project under the NSW Government's Boating Now program. The council has contributed a further $430,000 to the project.
NSW Maritime acting executive director Andrew Mogg said the work to improve "safe and easy boating access to the Karuah River" was another "great example of the NSW Government's continued investment in boating infrastructure".
Little Beach boat ramp will be closed from May to August for the works to be carried out.
A start date has not yet been set, a council spokesperson said.
The concept for the ramp extensions was developed in 2017 based on NSW Boat Ramp Facility Guidelines.
"Port Stephens Council and Transport for NSW are working closely together in refining the design and implementing the project," the council spokesperson said.
"One of the major improvements of the boat ramp is the elevation relative to sea level. This will be lower than the current ramp, allowing for boat launch at lower tide levels. The concept design has a length of 5.5 metres but this will be determined by the grades needed to meet the required elevation."
It comes after the ramp was closed for two days in February while the council carried out works to "ensure the ramp is safe for users" ahead of major construction works.
Boaties looking to access the water during the three-month closure time are being directed to use the Shoal Bay, Soldiers Point and Lemon Tree Passage boat ramps.
Port Stephens Council's community and recreation coordinator Brock Lamont said accessibility improvements, such as the construction of new amenities and improvements to pathways, will be made in the Little Beach area at the same time as ramp construction.
"We've planned works for the quieter winter months so that all of our boaters and fishers will be ready to launch off the new ramp in time for the warmer weather," he said.
Members of the community wanting to learn more about the project are being invited to attend a drop-in session at Little Beach boat ramp from 9.30am to 10.30am on Saturday, March 13.
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