Mega ramp dream moves closer to reality

By Luke Britt
Reaction to the news last week that Farmerville had purchased property adjacent to Lake D’Arbonne where a mega boat ramp will be constructed can be summed up in a single word: “excited.”
Business owners, community leaders and public officials reacting to the news all said they were excited about the possibilities for the community and pleased to see the decades old dream move closer to reality.
On Friday, Farmerville acquired nearly 11 acres of property on Highway 15 near Lake D’Arbonne where a 100-spot parking lot with oversized parking spots suitable for trucks pulling boat trailers will be constructed.
The property purchase was a necessary first step that clears the way for engineers to begin planning the project. The state has created a $2.5 million line of credit for the project, which will not be available all at once, but will be released in phases as the project advances.
The town purchased just over 7.5 acres from TTR, LLC for $250,000 and TTR donated another 3.4 acres to the town. TTR is a locally-owned company whose owners include Jered Ramsey, Leslie Townes III and Caskey Terral.
“The economic impact of this project for Union Parish will be unprecedented,” Union Parish Tourism Commission President Gay Nell Pepper said. “The Tourism Commission is very excited to finally see the first step of the Mega Ramp on Lake D’Arbonne completed. Thanks to the efforts of Sen. Stewart Cathey, Rep. Chris Turner, Mayor John Crow and many others, our job of promoting tourism in Union Parish is about to get a lot easier.”
The town has hired Monroe engineering firm Meyer, Meyer, LaCroix & Hixson, Inc. to begin planning the project, and MMLH Senior Project Manager Oliver Neal said the project does present some unique challenges.
“The goal is to develop plans for a boat ramp facility that can accommodate approximately 100 truck and trailer parking spots with bathroom and weigh in facilities. The ramp itself will be a multi lane boat ramp to facilitate tournament launches.,” Neal said.
The property consists largely of the low-lying area that runs parallel to Highway 33 across from D’Arbonne Lake Motel. The area is almost always wet and often is underwater, in part because it serves as one of three main drainage routes for water runoff from the town.
“The main challenges with building in a slough or channel like this location are redirecting the drainage around the facility as well as damming the area to enable a contractor to build up the subbase and base in dry, workable conditions,” Neal said.
Neal said MMLH is already involved in another drainage project in town, and thus is already familiar with Farmerville’s drainage system.
“We are currently studying the drainage ditch to the north that outfalls in the slough for drainage improvements as part of the Louisiana Watershed Initiative (LWI). We have been able to secure three LWI projects for the Town to improve drainage and reduce flooding.” Neal said. “We feel fortunate that the Town has trusted us with both projects which will enable us to coordinate improvements to the Highway 33 ditch and the ramp facility more efficiently.
According to Neal, the Town is waiting on authorization from the Office of Facility Planning and Control in Baton Rouge to begin work, and it is too early to estimate when construction will begin.

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