Rhode Island’s famous Cliff Walk continues crumble into sea
A section of the famous oceanside Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island, continued to crumble into the sea Friday.
That section was closed after a 20-foot (6-meter) section collapsed Thursday, likely due to erosion. No injuries were reported.
City Manager Joe Nicholson said Friday that another 10 feet (3 meters) may go, until the erosion reaches the human-made embankment in the area. Some of the dirt underneath the walkway adjacent to the collapsed section had already degraded and crumbled Friday morning, he added.
“Mother Nature is going to take its course over the weekend,” Nicholson said shortly after visiting the site. “I know rain is anticipated Sunday; that’ll probably quicken things.”
A major assessment of the entire walkway was done in 2014, after 2012′s Superstorm Sandy washed away sections of it. Nicholson could not recall another assessment after that. City employees and members of the Cliff Walk Commission with engineering backgrounds look out for any potential safety issues, he added.
WJAR-10 sent a drone, which captured the section crumbling Friday.
Nicholson said his staff and commission members had been working on a grant proposal to seek funding for another north to south review before the collapse happened.
“Am I concerned about the safety of it? Not at all,” he said.
Nicholson did not know how long it would take to fix the damage because the engineering and design work has to be done first. That area will be closed for the foreseeable future.
“Considering the location and logistics, it’s a tough project but we’ve done it before,” he said, referring to the Superstorm Sandy repairs.
Visitors can easily get around the damaged section by taking a short walk on local streets.
The Cliff Walk is one of Rhode Island’s most popular attractions, offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Newport’s Gilded Age mansions on the other. It’s around 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) long and is a designated National Recreation Trail.
A study estimated in 2018 that more than 1.3 million people visit annually. Nicholson thinks that number is higher now, with people seeking outdoor activities during the pandemic.