NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — Part of Newport’s famed Cliff Walk may be closed longer than the city initially thought.
Earlier this month, a lengthy stretch of the iconic oceanside Cliff Walk crumbled onto the beach below, followed by another smaller portion collapsing just one day later.
Both sections have been closed to people walking and riding their bikes and City Manager Joe Nicholson said it’s likely the closure will remain through the summer.
“This is not something that’s going to materialize overnight, there’s no magic Band-Aid for it,” Nicholson said. “This is a long, laborious process we have to go through … it’s not going to be repaired for summer at all.”
Bill Riccio, Newport’s director of public services, told 12 News he believes erosion is to blame for the collapse because it appears the land beneath the Cliff Walk gave way.
Riccio said the 3.5-mile stretch of coastline that attracts tourists from all over the world each year is inspected regularly, and an engineering team is going to have to look at the collapsed section to determine what to do next.
Nicholson said the safety of those who visit the Cliff Walk is always top of mind. He explained that the Cliff Walk will be open this summer, but with a four-minute detour in place.
“It’s going to be the same, you just take the small detour and continue on,” he said, adding that it’s still worth the trip despite the minor inconvenience.
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It will likely cost millions of dollars to repair the Cliff Walk, according to Nicholson. To try and offset that, Newport Mayor Jeanne Napolitano is seeking federal aid.
“As mayor, my hope is to secure funding as quickly and as efficiently as possible in order to prevent any further damage to this historic, national treasure,” she wrote in a letter to Sen. Jack Reed. “To that end, any assistance your office could provide, including suggestions for alternative sources of funding, will be greatly appreciated.”
Napolitano also said the Cliff Walk is a National Recreation Trail in a National Historic District, and it should be preserved for future generations.
CEO and President of Discover Newport Evan Smith tells 12 News he doesn’t think the collapse will impact tourism at the city’s most popular attraction this summer.
“This is a battle of man versus nature, and this time nature won,” Smith said. “We are very optimistic that our visitation will continue its recovery this summer.”