A new 40-foot boat ramp at E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin is open after about three months of construction.
The expansion doubles boat-launching capacity at the park at 2401 19th Ave. NW, said John Brill, spokesman for Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation.
A grant from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission contributed $200,000 to the $476,500 project, Brill said.
The heavily used park needed the project because it will decrease wait times for eager boaters, Brill said. But perhaps more important, it will ensure that boaters out on the water can return to land quickly if a storm approaches.
The old ramp, which remained open while the adjacent new ramp was being built this summer, could accommodate two to three boats at a time.
"Now we can double that capacity, and you can get your behind off the water, which is not the place you want to be in a thunderstorm," Brill said. "It's a safety issue."
County boat launch fees are $5 a day or $100 a year. Passes are available at the park office, 15502 Morris Bridge Road, or online at hillsboroughcounty.org/parks/resources/forms/AnnualPass.pdf.
Kim Wilmath can be reached at (813)661-2442 or firstname.lastname@example.org.