U.S. Coast Guard Modifies Regulations for Vessel Traffic in Narragansett Bay

This morning the U.S. Coast Guard issued a final rule modifying the regulations for vessel traffic in Narragansett Bay. The review of the previous regulations was prompted by a 2005 federal law that required the retention of the Brightman Street Bridge in the Taunton River and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging project in the Providence River. Retention of the Brightman Street Bridge had been controversial in the efforts to site the original proposed Weaver’s Cove LNG terminal in Fall River, Mass. The regulations, as modified, remove certain navigation restrictions in the Providence River and define the minimum under-keel clearance as 10% of vessel draft when not assisted by tugs or moored at an assigned berth.

According to the notice in this morning’s Federal Register, the safety measures proposed in the  original  rulemaking are being practiced by the maritime community either voluntarily or under instructions from the Captain of the Port. As such, “the Coast Guard believes further regulation for the Taunton River and Brightman Street Bridges is not necessary as the current system in place provides an appropriate and effective message to address the navigation safety issues related to the fewer (and smaller) commercial vessels that may now transit the Taunton River and Brightman Street bridges [sic].”

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