Sakonnet breakwater damaged, no money to fix it

A recent hurricane lashes the Sakonnet Harbor breakwater. A recent hurricane lashes the Sakonnet Harbor breakwater.

A recent hurricane lashes the Sakonnet Harbor breakwater.

Tropical Storm Irene lashes the  breakwater.

LITTLE COMPTON — The federal breakwater at Sakonnet Harbor has been damaged by several years worth of storms, and the Army Corps of Engineers says there’s no money to fix it.
Other priorities are competing for funds, The Corps says.”If you look at it over the years,” said Town Council President Robert Mushen, “the breakwater has sustained some boulders moving around, and needed to be looked at.” Mr. Mushen said the site is a popular one for spectators who gather to watch the waves and sea crashing into the rocks during storms.

Because of the damage that’s visible above the water line,  the town on Oct. 22 asked the Corps of Engineers to inspect the installation, which the Corps did on Oct. 31. Their findings were stated in a Dec. 18 letter from the Corps to Mr. Mushen that was presented to the council at its Jan. 10 meeting.

“There is one section, approximately 25 feet in length, where the smaller core stone has been displaced and the larger armor stones on the seaward side slope and crest have collapsed into the resulting void.” wrote Michael E. Walsh, P.E., PMP, an engineer with the Corps.

“Also, there are numerous smaller stones that have dislodged from the seaward slope of the structure and are lying on top of the crest,” Mr. Walsh said. “Other than these two deficiencies, the rest of the structure is generally in good condition.”

Mr. Walsh said the Corps agrees “that the damaged area described above should be repaired to prevent further deterioration and possible breach of the breakwater.”

The issue of funding is the problem. “We will work on repairing the structure as soon as funds become available,” Mr. Walsh said.

“Funding is limited, and the federal budget is severely constrained,” he said. “It is unlikely that repair of the Sakonnet Harbor Breakwater would compete well for funds against other large commercial ports.”

At this point, Mr. Mushen said he has no idea of the costs or timeline for repairs. Councilor Gary Mataronas, he said, will talk with the Corps “to get a better idea of the degree of degradation” and about the options. “It’s not as if it’s breached,” he said.

“We’ll ask the Corps, given what they told us, what ought we to do and what ought we to expect,” Mr. Mushen said. We’re aware they’re tied up with Hurricane Sandy repairs, he said.

On the matter of storm damage to Little Compton shores, Mr. Mushen said the repair of Sandy-damaged South Shore Beach has been assessed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and work should soon be going out to bid. Pat Griffin, Chairman of the Little Compton Beach Commission, which is managing the repairs, could not be reached for comment.

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