County Boat Ramp Overhaul On Schedule

WEST OCEAN CITY — Despite a setback that cost the contractor considerable time and expense, construction of the new public boat ramp at the commercial harbor is West Ocean City is back on track for a Memorial Day opening as planned, county officials learned this week.

The extensive rehabilitation and reconstruction of the decades old West Ocean City boat ramp continued in earnest this week after a setback involving the sheeting material for the coffer dams built around the site were overcome. The $450,000 project, funded by a combination of state and federal funding, includes removing the existing two-lane ramp built in 1988 and replacing it with a six-lane facility complete with a supporting bulkhead, fixed piers and floating docks.

In order to accomplish the project, cofferdams were erected around the site and the water was pumped out, creating a nearly dry work area in which concrete could be poured into the erected framework for the new ramps. However, the project engineer recommended vinyl sheeting be used for the cofferdams, which ended up leaking. The vinyl sheeting had to be removed and replaced with steel sheeting, which created a setback for the project’s completion.

“It was designed by a professional engineer, but it just didn’t work,” County Public Works Director John Tustin told the County Commissioners on Tuesday. “The vinyl failed and had to be torn out and replaced with steel. It was a setback, but they’re back on schedule.”

The contractor, Hi Tide Marine, has added extra crews and has been working practically around the clock since the setback with the vinyl was figured out. According to Tustin, crews have been working 14-15-hour days to make up the lost time and get the project back on schedule.

“It’s about 70 percent complete and that figure is improving everyday,” he said. “The hole is about 95 percent dry and they should be close to pouring concrete soon.”

Tustin said once the concrete is poured, the project should accelerate toward the finish line, provided there are no more significant setbacks.

“We just pray the weather will cooperate,” he said. “The goal is still Memorial Day. It might not be entirely completed, but we’ll get it open. We know how important that boat ramp is to so many people.”

The commissioners questioned if there were any repercussions built into the contract if the target date is not met. Tustin explained there was a clause in the contract that could result in daily fines if the project is not completed on time, although he doubted it would come to that.