July 19, 2008

Law Provides Water Access Near Jamestown Bridge

By Paul Davis

NORTH KINGSTOWN -- Fishermen and others will be able to use land next to the old Jamestown Bridge for parking and reaching the water, according to a new law signed by Governor Carcieri.

The law directs two state agencies to develop and maintain a park on state-owned land next to the bridge, on the North Kingstown side.

The area will be open to the public from sunrise to sunset, and designed for access to those with disabilities.

But the law mentions no deadline for the work. And it amends an earlier law that required the state Department of Transportation to build a fishing pier near the bridge.

The legislation leaves the door open for a new pier, but does not require it. Instead, it asks the DOT and the Department of Environmental Management to consider the area for future projects such as a fishing pier, boat access or a park, "particularly with regard to fishing access."

The law is based on legislation proposed by North Kingstown Democratic legislators Rep. Kenneth Carter and Sen. James C. Sheehan.

The state demolished the bulk of the Jamestown Bridge two years ago. Under the new law, the DOT can remove the last piece of the bridge without committing to the construction of a fishing pier. There is money for the demolition in the 2012 budget, but work could begin sooner if the DOT obtains the necessary permits, a spokeswoman said.

Fishermen for years have lobbied for a new fishing pier at the site. At a recent General Assembly hearing, representatives of Save the Bay and the Rhode Island Salt Water Anglers Association argued that the remaining portion of the old bridge should stand until there is a guarantee that a pier will be built at the same spot, just south of the Jamestown-Verrazzano Bridge.

But some North Kingstown residents have argued that a new pier could break loose in a hurricane and batter the new Jamestown bridge. They also say the location, Plum Point, is a poor spot for a pier. [email protected] / (401) 277-7402

Originally published by Paul Davis, Journal Staff Writer.

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