The Fox Point Hurricane Protection Barrier in Providence is located immediately south of the Narragansett Electric Company plant, about 0.2 miles north of Fox Point and one mile south of downtown Providence.
The project provides virtually complete protection against tidal flooding from hurricanes and other coastal storms to about 280 acres of downtown Providence. The protected area includes the commercial and industrial center, transportation facilities, public utilities, and many homes. The city suffered extensive damage from the hurricane of 1938 and Hurricane Carol in 1954 when, in each instance, water depths of up to eight feet were experienced in the city’s commercial area. Damage from the 1938 hurricane amounted to $16.3 million -- and damage from Hurricane Carol amounted to $25.1 million. Construction began in July 1961 and was completed in January 1966, at a cost of $15 million. The Corps of Engineers Cape Cod Canal Project Office operates and maintains the barrier’s elements located within the Providence River banks, while the city of Providence operates and maintains the rest of the structure.
The barrier itself is a 700-foot-long concrete structure, 25 feet high, that extends westerly across the Providence River from Tockwotton Street, near Fox Point, to Globe Street, near the power plant. The structure contains three tainter gate openings that prevent the entry of floodwaters from the bay when closed and permit passage of small vessels when open. Each gate is 40 feet high and 40 feet wide.
Two 10 to 15-foot-high earthfill dikes with stone slope protection, flank each side of the barrier. The eastern dike is 780 feet long and the western dike is 1,400 feet long.
A pumping station and cooling water canal are integral parts of the project. During a tidal/flood situation, the pumping station’s five large pumps can discharge the floodwaters of the Providence River through the barrier into the bay. Two gated openings in the pumping station, each 10 feet high and 15 feet wide, admit water into the cooling water canal used by the Narragansett Electric Company, located immediately behind the barrier.
There are three vehicular gates located at Allens Avenue, South Main Street, and the Narragansett Electric Company and five sewer gates that prevent high tides from backing up through the sewer lines.