NEWS

DOT project aimed at improving stormwater runoff into Buckeye Brook

Posted 9/16/21

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has started a project to reduce the impact of stormwater runoff from Warwick Avenue into Buckeye Brook, an important tributary to Narragansett …

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NEWS

DOT project aimed at improving stormwater runoff into Buckeye Brook

Posted

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has started a project to reduce the impact of stormwater runoff from Warwick Avenue into Buckeye Brook, an important tributary to Narragansett Bay and passageway for various spawning fish species.  

The $598,500 project will rebuild and expand two existing water quality basins on the north and south sides of the brook near Warwick Avenue and Old Warwick Avenue, just north of Sandy Lane in Warwick. The basins have overgrown with vegetation and have diminished capacity from accumulated sediment and debris from stormwater runoff. They are being replaced with two larger basins to accept diverted stormwater and filter it through soil and plant materials to remove pollutants before it discharges into the brook. 

The new system will capture the first inch of rainfall, also known as the “first flush,” which typically contains the most pollutants and sediment. The project captures stormwater from a 31-acre watershed area and will effectively reduce 9.9 acres worth of runoff from paved, also known as impervious, surfaces, according to a press release.

 “This project is but one of dozens of stormwater improvements we’re doing over a 10-year period to reduce the impact of stormwater pollution on our rivers, lakes, streams and beautiful Narragansett Bay,” said RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. “We are committed to being responsible stewards of the environment and meeting all requirements and obligations with state and federal environmental regulatory agencies.”

 “These are the types of watershed restoration and stormwater improvement projects which we advocate for and support,” Michael Zarum said in a statement. Zarum is president of the Buckeye Brook Coalition, which is the RI Rivers Council’s official State Designated Local Watershed Council for the Buckeye Brook and its watershed. “This project for stormwater flowing into Buckeye Brook absolutely meets goals for new green infrastructure, design requirements in the latest edition of the RI State Stormwater Design Manual, and stormwater best management practices.”

Zarum said a memorial to Stephan Insana, founder of the Buckeye Brook Coalition that had been on the south side of the brook near the Warwick Avenue bridge would be relocated in the vicinity of the West Shore Road culvert. 

The project is funded as part of RIDOT’s 10-year, $110 million commitment to come into compliance with a 2015 consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It mandates that RIDOT gets into compliance by treating pollutants in stormwater from all state roads and keep the whole system clean and maintained. RIDOT is responsible for a massive and complex system of catch basins and pipes that exists under Rhode Island’s road network – representing about 35,000 structures – that hadn’t been adequately maintained for years. 

During construction, vehicular traffic on Old Warwick Avenue will be detoured via Warwick Avenue, but will remain open for pedestrian traffic. Also, intermittent weekday daytime lane closures are possible on Warwick Avenue in the project area. Old Warwick Avenue is projected to reopen this fall a DOT spokesman said.

 The project is expected to finish by the end of the year. In was undertaken in connection with the settlement of an enforcement action, United States v. Rhode Island Department of Transportation, taken on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act.

All construction projects are subject to changes in schedule and scope depending on needs, circumstances, findings, and weather.

These stormwater improvements were made possible by RhodeWorks, RIDOT’s ongoing commitment to repair structurally deficient bridges and bring Rhode Island’s transportation infrastructure into a state of good repair, promote economic development, and create jobs. Learn more at www.ridot.net/RhodeWorks.

FOR A CLEANER BROOK: Under a Department of Transportation project stormwater catchments on both sides of Buckeye Brook between Warwick Avenue and Old Warwick Avenue are being cleared of vegetation and improved. (Warwick Beacon photo)

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