News & Events

GZA retained by Rhode Island DEM for two coastal resiliency projects

At a Glance

Press Release

GZA has been retained by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to design coastal resilience measures at Gull Cove in Portsmouth and Quonochontaug Pond Breachway in Charlestown.

In partnership with the DEM and incorporating public feedback, GZA’s Waterfront Engineering team and Design with Nature Studio will provide services to develop bid-ready final designs and permit applications for the projects using nature-based strategies to provide shoreline protection, coastal habitat enhancement, and stormwater management. Maintaining safe public access is a central goal of the project designs.

Gull Cove, located at the northern end of Aquidneck Island in Portsmouth, RI, is a popular destination for shellfishing, canoeing, and kayaking. The access road to the parking area on “the neck” of the cove has experienced flooding and erosion, with visitors’ vehicles threatened with stranding during extreme high tides.


Likewise, the “Quonnie Breachway,” its access road, and the 9.5-acre public-access site have faced damage from erosion and heavy public use. GZA’s contracts with DEM will provide nature-based approaches to addressing these issues, including removal of impervious surfaces, restoration of natural habitat, and creation of improved parking.

GZA President and CEO Patrick Sheehan said: “Helping communities like Charlestown and Portsmouth bolster the resiliency of their coastlines to the impacts of rising sea levels and climate change is a core focus of GZA’s work. We appreciate what cherished recreational attractions Gull Cove and the Quonochontaug Breachway are for so many Rhode Islanders, and we are excited to support the DEM in developing nature-based solutions to protect them for generations to come.”