The final phase of work on the new Fannin Landing boat ramp on Ross Barnett Reservoir is underway, and should be completed before the peak of the boat season begins in May.

A popular ramp, and the only one on the Rankin County side of the main lake body between the dam and Mississippi Highway 43, has received a complete face lift.

During the first phase in 2012, a riprap breaker wall was built to protect the launch site, and the parking lot was enlarged, given a new entrance, and repaved.

During Phase 2, the new double ramp is being built at the opposite end of the parking lot, and floating courtesy piers will be installed. The final piece of the puzzle will be a new restroom/pavilion facility on the south end of the parking lot.

"Because we are working through the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, which was able to get matching federal funds to help with the project, we had to schedule the work in phases," said reservoir chief engineer Greg Burgess, who explained that the funding was spread over two federal fiscal years. "We had to schedule the work around when the money would be available."

Fishermen are happy about the upgrade at Fannin.

"You can't underestimate the importance of that landing," said Robby Hays of Brandon. "It is the only ramp available on the east side, except in Pelahatchie Bay or at the dam. This summer especially, with gas prices already so high, it will reduce the distance a lot of fishermen will have to run by a mile or two each way, going out and coming in.

"Building the riprap wall is great. The one thing we always had to worry about when using the original Fannin ramp was a sudden storm blowing up from the west or northwest. That left the ramp exposed to the waves and it could be plum treacherous. There were a lot of times when we had to run in and drop a person off at the ramp and have them drive to a better protected ramp to put the boat on the trailer. That breaker wall will eliminate that."

Hays is also excited about the new floating aluminum courtesy pier.

"That is so much easier for kids and older folks to use than those old wooden permanent piers," he said. "The floating piers will go up and down with the water level and it's more of a level step on and off a boat. The best thing they ever did up at the main Highway 43 ramps (Goshen Springs Landing), was install those piers. They are just so much more convenient."