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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is planning to dredge about 6,500 feet of the busy channel from Stonington Point into Little Narragansett Bay off Sandy Point.
Funding for the work, expected to begin Oct. 1 and run through Jan. 31, 2015, was included in the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013.
Official notice of the project, dated Wednesday, starts the 30-day clock for public comment.
"Hurricane Sandy impacted the project and shoaling in the channel around the tip of Sandy Point has reduced available depths, making navigation hazardous at lower stages of the tide," said project manager Daniel Stenstream, of the Army Corps' New England District, programs/project management division in Concord, Mass., in a prepared statement.
"This dredging project will restore the channel around the island to the authorized 10-foot depth below MLLW (Mean Lower Low Water) to accommodate the present navigation requirements and will limit the removal of shoal material to only sand."
Notice of the project states the proposed work involves maintenance dredging of about 60,000 cubic yards of sandy material from about 8 acres within the entrance channel, from about Stonington Point to an area west of Wequetequock Cove.
The work will be done with a pipeline cutterhead dredge, and the dredged sand will be pumped onto Sandy Point "as a beneficial use to mitigate for adverse impacts to piping plover habitat caused by the dredging. Also, vegetation on the new tip of the island will be removed to provide premium nesting habitat for piping plovers," according to the notice.
"Sandy Point has shoaled into the federal channel and removal of this material will adversely impact the federally threatened piping plover nesting habitat, therefore the dredged material will be placed elsewhere on the island to mitigate the impacts to the nesting habitat on the island," the overview continues. "The material will be placed directly on the northern or leeward side of the island, to maximize the time before the material migrates back into the channel."
According to the Army Corps, dredging of the area was last performed in 1996-97 when approximately 47,000 cubic yards of material was removed and placed on Sandy Point.
An Army Corps spokesman said funds allocated after Superstorm Sandy will cover the cost of the project, estimated between $1 million and $5 million. An invitation for bids will go out later this year, with an anticipated start date in early October.
The state of Rhode Island is the local sponsor for the project.
The public notice, with more detailed information, is available for review at www.nae.usace.army.mil/Portals/74/docs/Navigation/Pawcatuck19Mar2014.pdf.
Public comments on this proposed work should be forwarded no later than April 17, 2014 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Programs/Project Management Division (ATTN: Mr. Daniel Stenstream), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751 or by email to email@example.com.