BLOUNTSTOWN, Fla. (WMBB) — After nearly four years of doing without, boaters can once again use a popular Calhoun County boat ramp on the Apalachicola River.
Although the Neal Landing boat ramp has reopened, limited to two boats at a time.
Hurricane Michael destroyed it in 2018, and officials have only repaired half of it.
Calhoun County Commissioner Darryl O’Bryan said inflation is the main reason they haven’t able to fully complete the ramp.
“You’re talking about almost four years ago, you know so cost of stuff has gone up,” O’Bryan said.
According to the Consumer Price Index, today’s prices are 1.14 times higher than they were in 2019.
Three years ago, this project was estimated to cost a little over $396,000.
Now it’s going to cost an additional $24,000.
Many community members wondered why it took so long to get the only boat ramp in Blountstown back in operation.
“They didn’t understand the river being up high. They thought well they could work on it. Well you can’t,” O’Bryan said. “The construction company had to get it down to a level to work on it. And I know folks was frustrated in the county, but we had no control over the weather.”
O’Bryan said the Covid-19 pandemic also played a role in slowing down the project.
Commissioners were able to get half of the ramp complete using an estimated $400,000 Florida Boating Improvement Program Grant.
Now, they said they’re applying for more grants to get the job done.
Many people who frequently visit this spot on the river said they’re just glad it’s back in operation.
“I’m surprised there are three trailers here,” Connie Walters said. “You come on a Saturday and the line is all the way down the road.”
County commissioners said the end-goal is for four boats to be able to simultaneously unload on the ramp.
Commissioner O’Bryan said he doesn’t have any kind of time estimate of when that will happen.
He said they need the money first.