CONCORD, Mass. – The New England District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in partnership with the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, is proposing improvement dredging to the Point Judith Harbor Federal Navigation Project (FNP) in Narragansett, Rhode Island. The proposed project includes the widening of the existing 15-foot deep Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) West Bulkhead channel by 50 feet for a distance of approximately 700 feet and extending this same channel approximately 1,200 feet into the North Basin area at a width of 150 feet and a depth of 11 feet.
Approximately 23,700 cubic yards of sandy material will be removed from the improvement sections using a mechanical dredge with supporting split-hull scows. The sandy dredged material will be placed in nearshore waters off of the Matunuck shoreline in South Kingstown, RI, approximately three miles west of the harbor. The dredged material will be placed in approximately 15 to 18 feet (MLLW) of water to allow the beneficial use of dredge material for beach nourishment. Construction will occur between Oct. 1 and Jan. 31 of any given year in which funding becomes available and is expected to take two to three weeks to complete.
The existing commercial and recreational vessels that use the Point Judith Harbor FNP have increased in number over the years. New berthing areas over the past several years were constructed to meet increasing demand for use of the Port. The result has been that navigation delays and inefficiencies exist at the western and northern sides of the bulkhead. The western side of the bulkhead is the primary work area and offloading area for fish haul, and contains major fish buyers and fish processors. The heavy use of this area by many of the vessels in the harbor and the narrow federal channel width result in frequent and significant congestion delays. Additional delays occur while vessels wait to offload catch. The waiting vessels make it difficult for other vessels to pass safely in the channel to reach their berths, causing additional congestion delays.
The improvement dredging of Point Judith Harbor would increase the FNP’s ability to accommodate safe and efficient vessel movement to the western and northern sides of the state pier at the Port of Galilee. This measure would alleviate crowded conditions for the commercial fishing fleet at the berthing and offloading areas, and provide access to northern berthing areas built to accommodate increased demands for use of the facility. It also would improve transit efficiency and improve safe passage for the commercial fishing fleet that use the western and northern areas of the port.
The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council is the local sponsor for the proposed work. This improvement project is authorized under the continuing authority of Section 107 of the River and Harbor Act of 1960, as amended.
The proposed work is being coordinated with the following agencies: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; National Marine Fisheries Service; Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management; Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council; State Historic Preservation Office; Rhode Island Department of Administration, Office of Strategic Planning; Rhode Island National Heritage Program; and the Narragansett Tribe.
A draft Environmental Assessment for this work has been prepared and is available for review upon request. The material to be dredged has undergone physical and chemical analyses. Based on these data, the sandy material has been found suitable for placement at the nearshore site off of Matunuck Beach in South Kingstown.
The public notice, with more detailed information on the proposal, is available for review on the Corps website at http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/PublicNotices.aspx under Planning public notices.
Public comments on this proposed project should be forwarded no later than Oct.19, 2018 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Planning Division (ATTN: Mr. Mark Habel), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.