NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s estimated that it could be months before repairs begin on the section of Newport’s Cliff Walk that collapsed in early March.
The Cliff Walk Commission held a meeting Tuesday afternoon, saying the city has sought out the services of a geotechnical firm to study the area where the slope failure occurred.
The collapse happened between Webster Street and Narragansett Avenue. Luckily, no one was injured when the walkway fell.
The firm, GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc., is a “multi-disciplinary, employee-owned firm providing geotechnical, environmental, ecological, water, and construction management services,” according to its website.
The firm has submitted a proposal to the city, which Newport City Manager Joseph Nicholson said will be presented to the City Council in April or May.
Nicholson said fixing the Cliff Walk is “going to be a difficult feat,” and the timeline of its completion depends on the enormity of the task and the cost.
The commission said, over the course of several months, the firm would conduct sample testing, rock probes, and use a drone to survey the area to help figure out what caused the collapse and what can be done to remedy it.
This first phase of data collection is expected to take two to three months. Then comes a design phase, when a few concepts will be presented to the city, which will ultimately make the final decision on how to move forward.
The commission said the city will be asked for state and federal funding to complete the work.
A senior class at Salve Regina University is already working on writing a grant through the van Beuren Charitable Foundation to help fund this work. It’s been in the works since last year when the commission said they realized the Cliff Walk needed a closer inspection.
“We’ve recognized the need over a year ago and we’ve been working on means of getting a grant to fund a study — a comprehensive study — of the Cliff Walk,” said Scott Wheeler, the city’s superintendent of Parks, Grounds & Forestry.
Currently, visitors can walk a total of 3.4 miles of the Cliff Walk; only a tenth of a mile is closed off due to the collapse. There is a four-minute walking detour that directs people around the area that’s barricaded off.
“It’s a very small fragment,” Wheeler added. “We’re fortunate where it occurred. There’s a simple detour around it.”
Visitors using the Cliff Walk in the coming weeks and months will have access to updated maps that show the detour.
When asked how much the firm’s services would cost the city, Nicholson said that’s up in the air since the city may decide to add or remove items from the original proposal.