After being closed for roughly 19 months, the busiest boat launch site in California held a reopening ceremony Tuesday to show off its multi-million-dollar upgrades, according to the Port of San Diego.
The Shelter Island Boat Launch Facility in La Playa saw $9.6 million in renovations, including a larger basin and a public walkway and viewing area.
“It became very congested, so this new ramp enlarged the basin area by 80 percent,” said Marguerite Elicone with the Port of San Diego. “It’s such a busy, popular launch ramp – now a lot easier to maneuver.”
The facility has 50,000 launches every year, according to the Port, making it the busiest site in the state.
“We have a lot of visitors up and down the coast that use the launch ramp,” Elicone told NBC 7.
Construction began in May 2017 and was completed in late December 2018. Crews remained on site through January to perform minor clean-ups.
The launch facility had previously been repaired in 1976 and 2005 since it was created in the 1950s.
With this new round of renovations, the Port completely demolished the launch ramp and rebuilt it from the ground up, the Port said.
Families should expect faster pick-up and drop-off times, according to Elicone.
Other improvements included updated restrooms, longer boarding floats, and new signage and lighting.
The Port said it worked with the public for the past decade on creating the best facility for the area.
“We had several public meetings, dating back 10 years,” said Elicone. “The public gave input on the design – three design alternatives.”
Elicone said the chosen design had the most public input.
“We’re very proud of the project. We thank the boating commuting for their patience,” she said.
More than 100 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, including local leaders like Councilmember Jennifer Campbell whose district is where the facility is housed and Randa Coniglio, the president and CEO of the Port of San Diego.
Polynesian dancers performed at the ceremony. “It was very festive. A lot of the boating – everyone was really happy with the outcome,” Elicone said.
A reception was held at the Outboard Boating Club on Shelter Island Drive.
The new facility was planned and constructed by local companies, the Port said. Triton Engineering designed the project, and R.E. Staite Engineering built it.
“Those are two respected companies with years and years of experience,” Elicone told NBC 7.
The $9.6 million project was funded by the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the State of California Wildlife Conservation Board, and the Port of San Diego.