By BRIAN SMITH
Things are ramping up at Lake Weatherford ... in more ways than one.
Construction began this past week on a new boat ramp at the Lake Weatherford marina, just in time for boating and fishing to begin in earnest. The new ramp will double the length of the previous ramp from 45 to 90 feet while keeping the original 30-foot width.
Assistant City Manager Sharon Hayes was watching work on the project Friday, which involved the laying of panels before concrete could be poured to make the ramp stronger, and said it will be a major improvement from the previous ramp.
“This new ramp will have an easier slope, making backing the boat into the water much easier,” Hayes said. “Anyone who has launched a boat from the old ramp will be very appreciative.”
The new ramp will use precast and prestress technology that has been granted a copyright and trademark by the U.S. government, according to Randall Tedder, owner and founder of Tedder Boat Systems from Ocala, Fla. Tedder has been in the boat ramp business since 1985 and says his patented technology is a three-fold improvement over standard boat ramps.
“The process is cheaper, in some cases saving as much as half over a conventional ramp. It’s quicker as we started here Monday and will be out of here late next week, so nine to 10 days as opposed to about six weeks for a normal construction,” Tedder said. “There’s also much less maintenance on the project. It’s literally maintenance free.”
Tedder says the ramp has a five-year warranty and he will be in contact with officials quarterly for the life of the warranty to ensure everything is ship shape.
Original bids for the project came in significantly above budget, with some pushing $500,000. Contractor Ed A. Wilson of Fort Worth began searching out other ways of getting the project done.
Company Division Manager Knox Ross said a conversation with his father, a retired engineer, got the ball rolling.
“We began looking at other methods and my dad said there like four or five companies doing precast work, including Tedder,” Ross said. “We contacted Mr. Tedder and that got things rolling.”
Wilson’s original bid of around $420,000 was able to be trimmed by about 40 percent to $251,780, according to Weatherford Director of Water/Wastewater Utilities James Hotopp, who said the Municipal Utility Board approved the lower-priced project in February.
This is Tedder’s second ramp in Texas, having built one in Port Aransas three years ago, but does most of his work in Florida and throughout the south.
Hotopp said the new ramp will make access to the lake easier when water levels drop.
“Because of the lower water levels, we haven’t had a boat use the old ramp in about three months,” Hotopp said. “This ramp became unusable when the water level dropped below 890. The new ramp will be usable to 885, which the lake will never get to because we being pumping water in from Benbrook at 888.”
Lake Weatherford is currently at 889 feet, about 7 feet below conservation pool level, Hotopp said.
Tedder said the ramp would be usable the first weekend of May but Hotopp and Hayes said they plan on opening the ramp a week later. Hotopp said he wants to allow about seven days for settling.
Once everything is settled, however, Lake Weatherford will be ready to host a fun summer for all.