Colt State Park fishing pier renovations underway

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The towering crane on a barge near the shoreline inside Colt State Park that can be seen from Bristol’s Highland neighborhood is a sign of things to come for local fishermen.

The Department of Environmental Management, in partnership with the Nature Conservancy, began a reconstruction and expansion project for the popular fishing pier. Once complete, the site will give disabled anglers and others improved access to one of the state's prime fishing areas.

The fishing pier at Colt State Park was built in the 1980s. Although the structure of the existing pier will remain, all of the pier decking and railings will be removed and replaced. In addition, the timber float and piles that anchor the float to the eastern side of the existing T-pier will be rebuilt and relocated. The expansion project also includes construction of an ADA accessible, 66-foot T-shaped extension to the existing pier. The rails will be lowered to a height of 34 inches in four handicap-accessible stations at the end of the pier extension to allow for fishing from a wheelchair.

DEM and the Nature Conservancy formed a five-year partnership to create and improve public access sites for fishing, boating, and hunting throughout Rhode Island. The project at Colt State Park is the first project to go forward as part of this partnership effort.

"Colt State Park is a very popular fishing area, and we are excited to begin this project that will expand shoreline and fishing access for all Rhode Islanders," DEM director, Janet Coit, said in a press release. "The expanded pier will provide visitors to Colt State Park, regardless of their physical limitations, with greater access to this fantastic fishing spot on Narragansett Bay."

In addition to the revitalized fishing pier, minor upgrades are also being made to the adjacent boat ramp at Colt State Park. The decking on the boat ramp and pile caps will be replaced as part of the improvement project.

The new pier is expected to open in spring 2014.

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