Letter: Hix Bridge dredging won’t fix what ails Westport's East Branch

Posted 3/24/21

To the editor:

I thought we had put this issue behind us ages ago but now see there is a whole new effort to spend $1 to 2 million on a project that will do NOTHING to change the oyster/flow …

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Letter: Hix Bridge dredging won’t fix what ails Westport's East Branch

Posted

To the editor:

I thought we had put this issue behind us ages ago but now see there is a whole new effort to spend $1 to 2 million on a project that will do NOTHING to change the oyster/flow situation to the upper East Branch of our river.

I have spent my entire life in and around boats (avocation and vocation) with well over 125,000 sea miles, mostly in my own boats, so I think I know a wee bit about water flow, currents etc. 

Further I have resided just below Hix Bridge on the river for over 42 years and during that time have boated above the bridge well over 100 times and south to the harbor thousands of times. I met “Crab” Manchester a number of times at the landing at Hix Bridge and his main concern to the best of my memory was the inability to safely motor under the bridge at low tide  — three feet — because of the old bridge stuff all west of the designated channel that is as clear today as ever.

We will always remember him for bringing us a bunch of blue crabs to our dock for dinner! A true character of the best of our town folk!

A few particulars:

• Look at the 100-year-old photo of the bridge structure and it is so obvious that any flow restriction was much worse/greater than today’s bridge simply because the new bridge has considerably less frontal blockage ie square footage.

• Go personally and witness the tide changes between high and low and you will see almost zero upwelling during peak flow times but, most important, there is a proper slack between tides — a true visual indicator that restriction does not exist.

So what has changed?

• Take a boat trip all the way up to the Head of the river and see especially during the warmer months the degradation of the water quality and the huge amount of algae present. When we first moved here it was very different — reasonably clear on both fronts. Now a true mess.

See the invasion of six-foot “Phrag” obliterating the marshes again at the north end of the river and moving south all year long. Marshes are the true indicator of a healthy river.

So, conclusion is if spending is available please let us spend it on ways to truly improve the quality of our still beautiful river.

Sorry to be so blunt and long winded but we seem to have the propensity to chase rainbows with little thought about the costs or facts. Believe me I would be 100 percent behind the dredging if I thought that the removal would solve the issue but the facts just do not so indicate.

Sham Hunt 

Westport

 

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Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.