BRIDGEPORT The city will soon have another fishing access area with a nearby campsite and walking trails along the banks of the Columbia River.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to break ground this summer on a new boat launch site just west of the city near Second Street, on land owned by the Douglas County Public Utility District.
With the opening of the Colville Confederated Tribes’ Chief Joseph Hatchery last spring, the state anticipates more demand for fishing access along the river, Fish and Wildlife Engineer Rusty Gigstead said.
“Fish and Wildlife is anticipating huge fishing in this area as soon as the hatchery starts returning,” Mayor Marilynn Lynn said.
“The project’s all designed,” Gigstead said. “It’ll be pretty similar to the Marina Park the city operates just upriver, but it’ll have one additional ramp.”
The double launch will be separated by a handling float, allowing two vehicles to use the ramps at the same time for loading and unloading boats.
“This second boat launch
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will go a long way to meet the need for additional access for fishing and recreational boating,” Lynn said.
Fish and Wildlife also plans to install a restroom and a two-acre gravel parking area with slots of varying sizes, from short ones for cars to longer ones for vehicles with trailers. According to a draft created by Erlandsen and Associates, the parking lot could include 135 spots.
A fish-cleaning station is another possibility for the boat launch area, but who will install it is still a mystery.
“At this point a fish-cleaning station has been considered … but we are not building it as part of the initial construction,” Gigstead said, noting that he’d heard of some volunteers who may install one.
For the state, the total project cost is estimated at bout $900,000. Gigstead said the final permit has been delayed and won’t be issued until about mid-June, when officials had hoped to receive it next week.
He said the project should go out to bid by July 1, and construction may begin by late August.
“I’m expecting it to be done by June of 2015,” he said.
Meanwhile, the city has purchased property adjacent to the utility’s land – from Second Street and Columbia Avenue to First Street and Columbia Avenue. The goal is to add more parking as well as a new RV park and walking trails connecting the new boat launch area to Marina Park, Lynn said.
“That is where we are working with the PUD through their (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) relicensing,” she said. “In their application was (desire) to help the city upgrade the current Marina Park and develop walking trails along the riverfront.”
More information about the RV park was not available before The Chronicle’s press time.
The state’s aspect of the development was conceived two years ago when the Legislature passed the Jobs Now Act, Gigstead said. One of the goals was to boost construction jobs, so the Fish and Wildlife Region 2 director, who oversees Bridgeport, came up with the plan for a new boat launch.
Fish and Wildlife signed a 30-year cooperative agreement with the utility in July 2012. In it, the state commits to building the new site and the utility commits to maintaining it and keeping it open for public use.
Lynn said the city is ramping up its attempts to boost recreation and economic development in the area.
“The Planning Commission has taken on developing an economic development plan, something we have not had,” Lynn said.
The commission also discussed developing a recreation portion for the comprehensive plan Wednesday night, she said, and the Port of Douglas County toured the area last week to discuss other economic opportunities for the city.
The port may work more closely with the Bridgeport Area Chamber of Commerce, which is in the process of restarting after it dissolved three years ago, Lynn said.
Visitors and residents also can look forward to more safe walking areas through town in the next two years, as the city plans to finish building sidewalks along Foster Creek Avenue to connect the downtown and residential areas to the bridge near Chief Joseph Dam.
Sidewalks and curbs will be installed across the street, in front of the Quik-E-Mart at 2606 Foster Creek Road.
The city is receiving about $350,000 of federal highway improvement funds to pay for the project, Lynn said.
“It will be a very nice, completed look in that end of town with the sidewalks,” she said.