Providence to begin $1.5M repair project on Fox Point Hurricane Barrier

THE CITY OF PROVIDENCE announced Monday that it will begin July 24 at $1.5 million repair project to the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier. Pictured is Craig Hochman, chief engineer for the city of Providence, with the barrier in the background. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO
THE CITY OF PROVIDENCE announced Monday that it will begin July 24 at $1.5 million repair project to the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier. Pictured is Craig Hochman, chief engineer for the city of Providence, with the barrier in the background. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

PROVIDENCE – Some long-awaited repairs to the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier will begin in the next couple of weeks.

Mayor Brett Smiley’s office announced Monday that the city will begin a $1.5 million repair project to replace the barrier’s underground hydraulics of the sewer gates that are located at the intersection of Allens Avenue and Henderson Street. The repairs, Smiley’s office said, will help the city close the sewer gates more efficiently more efficiently during emergencies. Currently, those barrier sewer gates have to be shut manually during severe weather events, Smiley’s office said.

The repairs will commence July 24 and should conclude by mid-August, Smiley’s office said. City officials also said that while construction is ongoing, southbound traffic on Allens Avenue will be detoured to Eddy Street, then to Blackstone Street and then back to Allens Avenue. Northbound traffic will be reduced to one lane around the work zone, Smiley’s office says, and commuters are urged to plan accordingly.

Local environmental groups in a July 22, 2022, Providence Business News engineering focus story warned that repairs to the half-century-old hurricane barrier – once known as a state-of-the-art marvel to prevent hurricane damage to the city – are sorely needed. The metal has corroded, the steel scratched and beaten down. But the gates, pipes and valves of the structure itself aren’t the biggest problem. Rather, it’s the water beneath it, which continues to creep higher and higher, threatening to make the once-revolutionary system obsolete.

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Earlier this year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers included $1 million in its budget to study potential climate weaknesses with the barrier. The hurricane barrier was also earlier this year considered among the “most endangered” properties by the Providence Preservation Society.

“Repairs to the hurricane barrier are long overdue and we are committed to making sure that the repairs are completed as quickly and safely as possible,” Smiley said Monday in a statement. “This infrastructure investment is a critical part of how we can ensure Providence is resilient in the face of intense weather events and climate change.”

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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