The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) today announced that it is undertaking an additional environmental study mandated by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), under the Section 7 Consultation provision of the federal Endangered Species Act, prior to the demolition of the old Sakonnet River Bridge. This study will determine if endangered or threatened species are living in the area and what, if any, mitigation efforts will be required prior to demolition. Once the study is complete, the Department will incorporate any required mitigation measures and proceed with demolition of the bridge.
"Our goal is always to ensure that we minimize any impacts our construction activities may have on the community and the environment," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said.
The study was requested by NMFS as part of the environmental impact statement created for the construction of the new Sakonnet River Bridge. Of particular concern to NMFS are the possible presence of the Green Sea Turtle, the Leatherback Sea Turtle and the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle, which are all endangered; the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, which is threatened; and the Atlantic Sturgeon.
While this mandated research is underway, the Department has already incorporated mitigation measures into its planning documents. In addition to the sea life, mammals such as falcons and bats must also be taken into consideration. Debris shielding, monitoring, time of year restrictions, fish startle systems, bubble curtains and silt curtains are all being evaluated as possible remedies.
RIDOT will attempt to accelerate work where possible once the required studies are complete. To sign up for weekly updates on RIDOT projects around the state, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.dot.ri.gov or follow RIDOTnews on Facebook or Twitter for timely information on construction projects and traffic conditions.
Contact: Rose Jones (401) 222-1362, Ext. 4450