Lake Springfield boat ramp to be closed for extended period

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A combination of flood damage and planned renovation to an adjacent highway bridge is forcing a prolonged closure of the boat ramp at Lake Springfield's Southwood Access.

Lake Springfield is situated on the south side of Springfield on the James River and is owned by City Utilities of Springfield. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) manages fishing on the reservoir as a part of a Community Assistance Program agreement with City Utilities. Southwood Access is located on the lake's southeast end, just below the U.S. 65 bridge. The access was scheduled to be closed for the duration of an 18-month bridge replacement and reconstruction project by the Missouri Department of Transportation that is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2016.

Plans for this scheduled shut-down of Southwood's boat ramp were superseded by heavy rains in June that swelled the James River to a record level. Surging flood waters ripped Southwood's concrete slab boat ramp away from the bank and moved it several feet downstream. The damage to the ramp was so severe that there was no chance of re-installing it; the unusable piece of concrete had to be broken up and hauled off. Repairing damage of this magnitude would take at least a year, a time period that overlaps the period it would have to be closed because of MoDOT's bridge replacement project. Consequently, it has been decided the damaged ramp will not be replaced until the bridge replacement project is complete.

When re-installed, the new ramp will again provide trailered boats a quality access point to Lake Springfield.

It's important to note that, though the boat ramp is gone, Southwood Access is still open to public use. Boats that need to be launched from a trailer won't be able to use the site, but people can still launch canoes, kayaks and small hand-carried boats. Anglers can also bank-fish at Southwood Access, at Clay Henshaw Memorial Access on the reservoir's south side (which features five disabled-accessible fishing platforms) or at any other site on the lake where safe access to the water can be made.