NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — A group of Salve Regina University students went on a field trip for class on Monday.
Professor Sam Sacco’s econometrics class assessed spots of the Newport Cliff Walk that were listed in a 1993 Rhode Island Department of Transportation report as needing restoration work. The visit is part of a project to draft a grant application seeking funding from The Van Beuren Charitable Foundation, which would allow engineers to update the 1993 study.
The new study would detail which areas of the Cliff Walk are still in need of repairs, what needs to be done, and what the cost would be.
Sacco said the grant-writing course helps students with skills that can’t be learned through books.
“It’s a great example of experiential education,” Sacco said. “They’re certainly developing team skills, to developing grant-writing skills, research skills. And it’s an experiential education that is much better than being in a classroom.”
Among the spots visited by the students was the part of the Cliff Walk that collapsed in March, which was listed in the 1993 report as needing “structural” work. The estimated cost of the project at the time was $5,110.
Sophomore Mary Orena said their work analyzing the stability of the Cliff Walk started before a portion of it came crashing down. Once that happened, the class realized that getting funding for a new study was crucial because a collapse could happen elsewhere along the walk.
“[The grant application] was supposed to be focused on the entire Cliff Walk, not just this instead. While [the collapsed area] is a major point that we need to focus on, there are plenty more things that we need to repair and fix as as well,” Orena said.
The grant application will include engineering descriptions, remedial steps, cost estimates, drawings, and photos of critical locations, according to the university.
In addition to the economic impact the Cliff Walk has on Newport, restoring it is also meaningful for Salve students.
“Every single student at Salve has an area of the Cliff Walk that is near to their heart, that they go to every day,” Salazar said. “People are very, very drawn to it and brought together by it, so it’s definitely important to fix it soon.”
While analyzing the 1993 report is a crucial part of their class, the students are also looking ahead.
“Clearly we can’t go backwards, we can only go forwards, so now we can only just look at what we can repair, what we can fix, and how we can fix that as soon as possible,” Orena added.