By: Tim Studebaker

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Like giant snakes, winding their way through downtown Providence, 10,500 feet of orange tubing floats on top of the Providence River.  It’s part of a new project to dredge the Woonasquatucket and Providence Rivers.

Dan Goulet, Marine Infrastructure Coordinator with the Coastal Resources Management Council says, "…to restore the river to its original constructed depth of 4 feet at low water.  It'll remove all of the accumulated sediment over the last 30 years."

Goulet says the problem mostly stems from sand used on the roads during winter storms.  It washes off and ends up in the river, causing trouble for fish and boaters.  Crews will be using special machinery to remove the sand between the Providence Place Mall and the Crawford Street Bridge.

Goulet says, "What it does is it agitates the sand in front of it with a large cutter head, and will suck the sand up, and then push it down the pipeline to its ultimate place where it will be de-watered."

The sand will end up at South Quay in East Providence.

Tim Mooney, Marketing/Communications Manager with the Nature Conservancy says this is the right time of year to do the project.

Mooney says, "By now, all of the fish have moved out of the system.  This is why the dredging happens between November and February."

The project was funded by a grant, approved by voters in November 2018.  They hope to start this week, and will run 24 hours until the project is complete, around late December.  They're also working to delay the need for more dredging.

Mooney says, "The city and the state have committed to doing a better job of keeping the sand out of the river."

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