Several construction projects at Mammoth Cave National Park’s Green River Ferry have either been finished or are reaching completion.
The ferry resumed vehicle shuttle operations Sunday.
The ferry service had been closed since September to complete a vehicle ramp project to extend the access ramp by 30 feet into the Green River.
The ferry will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. but will be closed daily between 1:45 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. for cleaning and disinfection of the operating booth between shifts.
“The Green River Ferry is used by visitors every year, and we have to shut it down whenever water levels are really low,” Mammoth Cave National Park Public Information Officer Molly Schroer said. “We were experiencing more closures and shutdowns due to the low levels. These extensions and reconfiguring of the ferry made it possible to cross now.”
The project contractor, Kovilic Construction Co., took advantage of lower than average water levels that allowed it to reach the lowest sections of the ramp.
Additional paving on the south ramp and coffer dam removal on the north ramp is still needed, though, so short-term closures can be expected in the spring and summer this year.
The ramp extension project was coordinated by Federal Highway Administration Eastern Lands Highway Division with assistance from the park.
Work to install a new canoe and kayak access ramp at the Green River Ferry area has been suspended until late spring due to high water, but river access at both Green River Ferry and Dennison Ferry, 7.6 miles upstream from Green River Ferry, reopened Sunday.
River users are permitted to use the Green River Ferry’s vehicle access ramp to reach the river until the canoe and kayak ramp is completed in mid-2021.
Much of the project is finished, but the contractor still needs to complete work on the lower railing system. This work is expected to occur when water levels drop in late spring.
“Up until this point, the only access point for canoes and kayaks was just the one ramp,” Schroer said. “It caused great congestion in the summertime. People will be able to use that new ramp for those specific activities”
Boaters and paddlers should be aware that winter often brings high, fast-moving water in the Green River and are advised to be familiar with the park’s river safety and regulations.
The first half of the Echo River Springs accessible trail is currently open to the public, and the installation of the pedestrian bridge over the Echo River will be completed Jan. 12-13.
The installation will include a temporary closure of the Green River Ferry Road and Green River Ferry Service from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
The new pedestrian bridge will span about 200 feet over the Echo River and will create an accessible loop trail that leads directly back to the Green River Ferry parking area.
As part of the trail project, the existing accessible trail has been extended an additional 0.3 miles.
Portions of the Echo River Springs Trail were rehabilitated in 2018 to improve accessibility and add tactile wayside interpretation stops along the route.
“The loop trail for the public will create a better experience the woods,” Schroer said. “Even throughout 2020, we saw a lot of people using our rivers and trails. The more we can provide people with opportunities to see the surface, the more they will be able to appreciate the park as whole.”
– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.