Crews upgrade boat launch at state park

March 15, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

The new metal pier floats in the water at Lake Sammamish State Park. By Greg Farrar

Boaters should notice upgrades to the boat launch area at Lake Sammamish State Park come springtime.

The construction swapped wooden piers for sturdier metal. The updated piers also reach farther into the lake to accommodate boats. Crews completed the project at the popular park in late December.

The state used grants to fund the project, but the State Parks and Recreation Commission did not secure enough funds to replace all of the aging piers. The total price tag for the project remains undefined.

The state enlisted Issaquah-based Thornberg Construction Co. for the project.

Crews installed the old piers atop wooden pilings in the early 1970s.

Park Manager Rich Benson said the plan to upgrade the boat launch area sat idle for years.

“During the winter when the water level comes up, they don’t float, so they’re underwater for months at a time,” he said. “That puts a lot of stress and strain on them.”

State Parks and Recreation Commission officials handled the numerous permits from local, state and federal agencies needed in order to build along the lake shoreline.

Construction occurred during the so-called fish window in order to avoid disturbing fish and other aquatic species in the lake. Crews completed the project despite inclement conditions.

“The weather we had in December was a little bit challenging,” Thornberg Construction President Ted Jenneskens said.

The metal piers installed late last year replaced aging wooden piers. Usage from boaters and the strain from the lake inundating the piers during the rainy season left the old piers in need of replacement.

The updated piers include ramps and meet Americans with Disabilities Act criteria.

Jenneskens has already joined other hardy boaters to use the facility despite the dismal weather.

“I think it’s a great project for the community,” he said. “It’s better than what was there.”

Benson said the longer piers should still be able serve the same number of boaters during the busy summer season.

“We’re not getting the crowds yet. The people we’re getting there are, for the most part, the experienced boaters,” he said. “They know how to launch their boats and get them in and out of there pretty easily. I’m hoping that in the summertime, the less-experienced boaters will find it as acceptable as the people who have been using them so far.”

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