Major renovations of Miller Ferry’s Catawba Dock tackles high water woes

Feb 5, 2020 | Featured | 0 comments

Image of Tim Niese Jr. in front of construction equipment

The Miller Ferry Line has been battling high Lake Erie water levels at its Catawba Dock in the past year. Tim Niese Jr., owner of Innovative Excavation LLC, and his crews have been renovating the dock on the Ohio mainland this month to handle the record-setting water levels. (Photos by D’Arcy Egan)

BY D’ARCY EGAN

The Miller Ferry Line is being proactive to the high Lake Erie water levels plaguing so many Lake Erie shoreline communities and businesses, renovating its Catawba Dock on the north end of Catawba Island this month to have it ready to receive vehicles and passengers when the ferry line roars back into action this spring.

“The cost of the project is in excess of $200,000, but it has to be done so we can run when Lake Erie is higher, and still be very safe and comfortable for customers and vehicles while loading and unloading,” said Scott Market, co-owner of the ferry line with his brother, Billy Market.

Image of workers constructing dock renovations

Parts of the Catawba Dock owned by the Miller Ferry Line are being elevated as much as 14 inches to keep customers feet dry during an extended period of high water on Lake Erie.

“We were raised in the family business to be proactive, and carry the Market torch into the next generation. We’re a close-knit family, and try to keep in mind serving the South Bass Island community as a whole.”

Tim Niese Jr., owner of Innovative Excavation LLC, has his crews busily creating the higher dock areas, putting in new hydraulics and adding additional rip-rap on the sides of the Catawba Dock to prevent erosion.

“The warm weather has really been a bonus on this job so far, especially when it comes to pouring a lot of concrete,” said Niese. “That’s unusual, and everyone on the island would rather have an Arctic blast so we can go ice fishing.”

The bigger dock space will allow the Miller Ferry Line dock area to accommodate more passengers and vehicles.

“That’s important in keeping vehicles coming on the ferry from being backed up on the road leading to the dock,” said Market. “It will help to eliminate congestion, and makes for a much larger space for the pedestrians to wait in line on the dock.”

Market and Niece both are optimistic the project will be finished in time for the spring season, when crowds will clamor for a ride to South Bass Island and Put-in-Bay.

“The high water is not going to go away any time soon,” said Billy Market. “This has ben a very unusual winter so far, with the lack of ice coverage. In fact, there were eight to 10 boats out fishing around South Bass Island on Monday. That’s very unusual for February.”

Billy Market says he feels much like the little Dutch Boy, trying to keep the high water levels at bay.

“You have one finger plugging a leak, and another leak pops up somewhere else,” he said, with a laugh. “We have a great team, though, and we’ll be ready to go this spring.”

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