Post-Sandy repair work on RI Cliff Walk planned

Mar 2, 2014, 7:25 PM

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) – Sixteen months after Superstorm Sandy washed away parts of Newport’s famous Cliff Walk, a large swath remains closed. But officials say they expect the entire 3.5-mile trail will open again June 13 after millions of dollars is spent on repairs to the centuries-old walk, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year and is Rhode Island’s most visited tourist attraction.

They’re also looking at whether to add some user-friendly improvements, including trail markers that would provide information about the Gilded Age mansions that line the ocean-side trail.

Around $5 million has now been approved to repair what was damaged in the October 2012 storm, which undermined some walkways and cliffs, moved huge boulders and changed the look of the coastline in several areas. A first phase of work was completed in December to repair walls and walkways on the end of the trail farthest away from the city center. The other end was previously open, so now what remains closed is the middle section, which runs from The Breakers mansion built by the Vanderbilt family, through tunnels and across some of the roughest and most natural parts of the trail.

That section runs past several of the city’s well-known buildings, including heiress Doris Duke’s Rough Point and Beechwood, now owned by Oracle’s Larry Ellison and undergoing extensive renovations, as well as through a tunnel below the Chinese Tea House, built by another Vanderbilt.

The bulk of the work on that section will start this month, including shoring up land, repairing railings and doing other work, said Dave McLaughlin, a member of the Cliff Walk Commission.

After the storm, there was a debate in the city about how best to deal with the damage. Some argued in favor of a minimalist approach that would keep the trail as natural as possible, while others proposed more drastic changes. Surfers and environmentalists were particularly concerned about an early proposal that would have required huge boulders be put in along the water near The Breakers, known as one of New England’s best surfing spots. That plan was eventually scrapped, although some areas are being built up more than environmentalists think is wise.

Other improvements would have little environmental impact. McLaughlin said the commission is discussing a trail marker program that would be phased in and eventually include 15 markers. Each would have a so-called QR code that could be scanned by a mobile device. They are still in the planning stages, but he said they would likely provide information about the nearby Gilded Age mansions, as well as lighthouses and land masses that can be seen from that spot.

“So many times, people will stand in front of a particular house and say `Is that The Breakers?’ And they have no idea,” he said. “You look out and you see a vista, you don’t know what you’re seeing all the time. Sometimes I don’t even know which islands I’m looking at.”

The program is not estimated to cost much: $10,000, of which $5,000 has already been donated by a citizen, McLaughlin said.

The city council last month approved a contract to build the trail’s first permanent restrooms along the most traveled section, near the Forty Steps, a stone staircase that takes visitors down above the rocks. They will replace portable restrooms that Mayor Harry Winthrop has called embarrassing.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

A hiring sign is displayed outside of a restaurant in Arlington Heights, Ill., Monday, Jan. 30, 202...
Associated Press

Job market still hot, December openings rise to 11 million

U.S. job openings rose to 11 million in December, delivering a setback to the Federal Reserve's effort to cool a hot job market.
1 day ago
(AP Photo/John Locher)...
Associated Press

Is pumping Mississippi River water to the west a solution or dream?

Amid a major drought in the Western U.S., a proposed solution comes up repeatedly: large-scale river diversions.
1 day ago
US Vice President Kamala Harris (R) greets friends and family of Tyre Nichols during his funeral se...
Associated Press

Emotional calls for police reform at Tyre Nichols’ funeral

Vice President Kamala Harris delivered an impassioned speech calling on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
1 day ago
Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, at...
Associated Press

Fed lifts rate by quarter-point but says inflation is easing

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve extended its fight against high inflation Wednesday by raising its key interest rate a quarter-point, its eighth hike since March. And the Fed signaled that even though inflation is easing, it remains high enough to require further rate hikes. At the same time, Chair Jerome Powell said at a […]
1 day ago
The Colorado River Basin supplies water to 40 million people in seven western states. (Photo by Jus...
Kevin Stone

Arizona leaders call out California on Colorado River water negotiations

Arizona politicians are calling for more cooperation from California in negotiations over Colorado River water supply distribution.
1 day ago
U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, left, wants to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayor...

Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona aims to impeach Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas

U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona is pursuing articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over his handling of border security.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Post-Sandy repair work on RI Cliff Walk planned