The much-improved asphalt parking lot at the Westport Marina boat launch is nearly ready to welcome boaters this summer, and other improvements like the paving of Yearout Drive and bathrooms and showers at Float 7 are expected to be completed over the course of the next month.
The lot itself could be open within a week, said Molly Bold, marina business manager, ahead of the June 22 recreational salmon season opener and the June 20 added day of recreational halibut fishing — the bathrooms and other ameneties should be up and running later in July.
“We have busy days ahead, and the ramp will be open for salmon season,” Bold told Port of Grays Harbor Commissioners on Tuesday. The recreational quota this year is 160,000 coho, up significantly from last year, and 25,000 Chinook, a little lower than last year.
The old gravel boat launch parking area has been covered with asphalt that will be lined to better accommodate vehicle and trailer parking. The new lot includes a staging lane, where boats waiting to launch can wait their turn without blocking North Wilson Avenue, which leads directly to the launch.
“The point is to get to the launch without blocking traffic on Wilson,” said Bold. Vehicles will stage above the launch near the Coast Guard Station entrance, not on Wilson Avenue as had been the case in the past.
Still under construction are wash rooms, a boat-rinsing station, a fish-cleaning station and a new pay kiosk that will take debit and credit cards at the launch.
The boat launch improvements, new Float 7 restrooms and Yearout Drive paving represent a major investment in the marina from county, state and private partners, said Bold, including funds from the Legislature and the state Recreation and Conservation Office, and others.
Total project costs include design, engineering, permitting and construction. The funding, as provided by the Port of Grays Harbor, breaks down like this:
Boat Launch Improvements
Estimated completion: Lot should be usable within a week, though plaza amenities — bathrooms, filleting table, pay station kiosk — will not be completed until late July.
Overall project cost: $1,253,327.00
State Recreation and Conservation Office: $916,221
Port of Grays Harbor Capital Budget: $337,106
Float 7 bathroom and showers
Float 7 is located off the end of Lamb Street northeast of the Westport Marina office and east of the fuel dock, an area that holds primarily commercial fishing vessels.
Estimated completion: late July
Project estimate: $200,000
Port of Grays Harbor Capital Budget: $200,000
Estimated completion: June 20
Total project cost: $606,528.00
Grays Harbor County .09 funds: $200,000
Port of Grays Harbor Capital Budget: $406,528
Yearout Drive splits southeast off Wilson Avenue at the south side of the boat launch parking area. It gets a great deal of traffic from offloading commercial fishing vessels at the processing facilities to the northwest.
“It handles about 10,000 truck trips a year,” said Bold, who added the paving of about 2,000 feet of roadway is intended to make life easier for the existing traffic and “support investment and the opportunity for growth in the future.”
Westport ranks 11th in the nation in commercial seafood landings. As some groundfish populations continue to improve to fishable levels, the potential for more processing goes up. And “it’s hard to market a gravel road” to potential investors, said Bold.