RI Fishing Access at Risk in RIDOT Bridge Proposal

This Tuesday, October 24th, RI’s Coastal Resources Management Council will meet to consider Application 2023-04-094, in which RI’s Department of Transportation outlines plans to rebuild the bike path bridges that span the Barrington and Warren (Palmer) Rivers. While their primary purpose has always been to provide connectivity for the East Bay Bike Path, both bridges have historically been used by anglers, especially in the spring months when returning herring bring the first Striped Bass of the year into Narragansett Bay.

On pages 47-48 of RIDOT’s application the agency clearly states their intent to “not provide fishing access from the bridges for safety reasons”. After questioning by CRMC’s staff (as outlined in CRMC’s Staff Report) RIDOT revised their stance “to eliminate any suggestion that the Department intends to prohibit, preclude, or restrict public recreational fishing from the proposed bridges” in a September, 2023 memo.

In advance of the Council’s meeting on October 23, New England BHA submitted testimony requesting the Council require fishing access as a condition for permit approval. After all, CRMC’s staff has clearly documented this historical use in their Staff Report, and CRMC’s policy is to “require applicants to provide, where appropriate, on-site access of a similar type and level to that which is being impacted as the result of a proposed activity or development project” (650-RICR-20-00-1 1.3.6 (A) 3).

Those who are concerned with RIDOT’s lack of a firm commitment to provide fishing access as a component of the bike bridge project can send an email to [email protected]. Be sure to include a clear request (ensure fishing access) and include the application number (2023-04-094 – Barrington/Warren River Bike Path Bridges).

About Christopher Borgatti

BHA Eastern Policy & Conservation Manager

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