Gull Cove boat ramp in Portsmouth to close this summer

DEM cites safety as primary concern


PORTSMOUH — The R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has decided to close and remove the concrete Gull Cove State Boat Ramp in July, saying it’s no longer safe or feasible to maintain. 

Located on the south side of Route 24 between exits 2 and 3, just west of the Sakonnet River Bridge, the boat ramp is more than 25 years old. The ramp allows boaters to launch into Blue Bill Cove. 

According to Gail Mastrati, assistant to the DEM director, the state is closing the boat ramp as it is more than 25 years old. 

"DEM evaluated the ramp and determined that is has reached the end of its useful life, and that the removal of the structure is the best option,” said Ms. Mastrati. 

Gull Cove is not an ideal launch area for boaters, according to DEM, because it does not provide the conditions necessary to meet the States Organization for Boating Access (SOBA) guidelines without extensive and costly dredging and site modifications. 

SOBA is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group that promotes federal and state programs that provide safe, high-quality, and environmentally sound recreational boat access to U.S. waterways.

Bids are being solicited for a contractor to remove and dispose of the boat ramp. A date for the removal will be set once the bidding process is completed.

Town Administrator Richard Rainer, Jr. first told the Town Council about the impending closure on March 25.

Open to fishing, paddling

The Gull Cove Fishing Area will remain open to the public for shoreline fishing and paddling access, although, on occasion, the area may be unavailable for a brief time to facilitate the removal of the boat ramp. 

The ramp site, which will be graded following the removal of the ramp, and the adjacent shoreline are both suitable for launching hand-carried boats. The area consists of a narrow access road built on a peninsula of land that opens to more than 50,000 square feet of parking area and public access shoreline.

According to DEM, there are several other nearby boating access points, including the nearby Sakonnet River Bridge boat ramp on Riverside Drive in Tiverton and the Mt. Hope ramp in Bristol. 

For a list of boat launching sites throughout the state, visit DEM’s website.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.