Army Corps considering dredging project in Mystic River

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing maintenance dredging of the Mystic River in Groton and Stonington.

The project, which would be funded by the state, would deepen the channel from the river’s mouth at Long Island Sound to the upper wharves near Mystic Seaport, the corps said Thursday in a news release. After removing the silt and sediment, the channel would be 15 feet deep and 125 feet wide from the mouth to the railroad bridge near the end of Water Street, then 100 feet wide to the highway bridge at Route 1, then 12 feet deep to the seaport wharves. The project would also include a 9-foot by 8.5-acre anchorage in the harbor north of Masons Island and a 9-foot turning basin above the railroad bridge.

About 250,000 cubic yards of silt would be dredged, and the material would be dumped at the New London disposal site in Long Island Sound or the Rhode Island disposal site in Rhode Island Sound, the corps said. The work would take five to seven months and would be done from Sept. 1 through April 1, depending on when funding becomes available, the agency said.

The 12-foot channel was last dredged in 1941, and work on the other portion was last done in 1957, the corps said.

The corps is working with the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Historical Commission, the state Department of Agriculture’s Aquaculture Division, the Mystic Harbor Management Commission, the Groton town engineer and the Mystic Harbor Port Authority.

Requests for a public hearing on this project and public comment will be received until Feb. 28. They should be sent to: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District; Programs/Project Management Division (Attn. Jennifer Flanagan); 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751, or by email at nae-pn-nav@usace.army.mil.

The corps said it will make a final decision on whether to go ahead with the project after evaluating the benefits to the public against impacts on wildlife and other environmental concerns, historic resources, aesthetics and other considerations. If it decides to pursue the project, it would request a Water Quality Certification permit from the state and a finding of Coastal Zone Management consistency from New York and Connecticut.

j.benson@theday.com

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