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Town of Bristol harbormaster seeks Corps of Engineers permit to expand the Church Street Marina in Bristol

Published March 3, 2020

CONCORD, Mass. – Harbormaster Gregg Marsili of the Town of Bristol is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District to conduct work in waters of the U.S. in conjunction with the expansion of the Church Street Marina in Bristol, Rhode Island. This work is proposed in Bristol Harbor at 127 Thames Street in Bristol.


The proposed work involves the expansion of the Church Street Marina in order to meet the heavy demand for resident and non-resident/transient docking. The applicant has stated that the waiting list for residential slips is long and that expansion should help to provide access to those on the list while also increasing the economic viability of Bristol's historic waterfront though additional slips for transient boats and commercial vessels. The project has a 50-year lifespan and has been designed to limit costs of maintenance over this time.


The existing marina is located behind the Bristol Maritime Center at 125 Thames Street. The Maritime Center serves as the Harbormaster's office and includes a marina support building. The existing marina extends from a small parking lot adjacent to the Maritime Center into Bristol Harbor and consists of a c-shaped fixed timber pier (approximately 2,676-square feet) which encompasses approximately 6,700-square feet of timber floats including (2) main floating timber docks with (17) timber finger floats. There is a timber wave fence along the southern portion of the fixed timber pier which protects the existing marina from long fetch waves. All of the floats and (37) total slip spaces within the existing marina will remain with the proposed marina expansion.


The town will be reducing the size of the existing fixed timber pier by demolishing the southern and western portions that surround the existing marina (approximately 2,140-square feet). The proposed marina expansion includes repair of the remaining 536-square feet of the eastern portion of the existing pier to provide marina access from a single-entry point. The repairs include removal and replacement of existing timber pile caps, stringers, decking, and railing.


Universal access to the proposed marina will be provided via a 50-foot long (200-square foot) aluminum gangway extending south from the fixed timber pier to an approximate 100-square foot aluminum platform, where a second 40-foot long (160-square foot) aluminum gangway and an aluminum stairway extend to the main timber floating docks. The main timber floating dock, Dock A, consists of (20) 8-foot wide by 16-foot long (2,560-square foot) floats and is supported by (10) 12-inch diameter timber piles. A second main set of timber floating docks, Dock B, extends perpendicular from Dock A into the Harbor and consists of (14) 8-foot

wide by 20-foot long (2,240-square foot) floating docks. A total of (18) 5-foot wide by 30-foot long timber finger floats are provided along Dock B providing (38) new slips. The floating docks comprising Dock B are supported by a total of (28) 12-inch diameter timber piles.


This project will impact approximately 0.4 acres of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). Based upon the subsurface explorations completed prior to design, this habitat is primarily a muddy bottom consisting of silt, fine sand, and gravel with some organic material. Loss of this habitat may adversely affect species that use these waters and substrate. However, the Corps has made a preliminary determination that the site-specific adverse effect will not be substantial. Further consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding EFH conservation recommendations is being conducted and will be concluded prior to the final permit decision.


The application for the federal permit was filed with the Corps in compliance with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which provides for federal regulation of any work in, or affecting navigable waters of the U.S.; and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge or fill of material in U.S. waters, including wetlands. The public notice, with more specifics on the work proposed by the Town of Bristol, can be viewed on the Corps website at https://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/PublicNotices/.


Public comments on this work proposed by the Town of Bristol (file # NAE-2019-02852) should be forwarded no later than April 2, 2020 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division, (ATTN: Michael Wierbonics), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Michael Wierbonics at 978-318-8723 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to: michael.s.wierbonics@usace.army.mil.

Tim Dugan

Release no. 20-004