2014-04-24 / Front Page

Cliff Walk Finish In Sight

By Barry Bridges

The Cliff Walk reconstruction is heading into its final phases as the expected June re-opening of the trail draws closer.

Hurricane Sandy inflicted significant damage on southern sections of the scenic byway in the fall of 2012. The portion of the path from Ruggles Avenue north to Memorial Avenue was not severely damaged and has remained open while crews have been busy making repairs elsewhere. Restoration work was completed from Bailey’s Beach to Ledge Road in December, leaving the section from Ledge Road north to Ruggles Avenue closed for work.

Cliff Walk Commission Chair Robert B. Power updated Newport This Week on various pieces of the continuing project.

Ultrasound technology is being used at the end of Ruggles Avenue to look for erosion under the cement panels in that area. This method can potentially save time and money by eliminating the need to pull up all of the panels for manual inspection.

Work is also wrapping up near Rough Point, where equipment is being pulled out so that a temporary construction access road built across the estate property can be removed. The grounds will thereafter be restored to their original appearance.

The rehabilitation of railing and fencing is in progress behind Miramar, and the former stone dust composition along that section is being replaced with cement to reduce pooling water.

Retaining wall improvements will help to prevent sediment on steep banks from sliding down onto the trail.

With a building contract for the new permanent restroom facility at 40 Steps only recently awarded in February, the lavatories are part of the larger project that will not be finished by June. An early August completion date is set for those. With a cost of $420,000, the restrooms being built at the terminus of Narragansett Avenue by East Coast Landscaping are being funded through the municipal budget and grant monies. They will replace a pair of portable toilets that have long been considered a substandard feature of Rhode Island’s most popular tourist attraction.

This project will also include the expansion of underground utilities and the installation of a drinking water fountain, bottle filler, bike rack corral, low impact stormwater treatment sand filter, and a sidewalk along Narragansett Avenue to accommodate high pedestrian traffic.

Although work continuing through the summer on these elements may impact parking around the area, spaces may be more readily available during construction downtime on weekends.

Parking meters being installed on the north and south sides of Narragansett Avenue will aid in paying for future restroom maintenance.

Power is pleased with the results of the work efforts and exudes a positive outlook on the whole experience. He said, “The hurricane has been a tremendous opportunity for Newport. It has given us the chance to revisit the needs of the Cliff Walk in not only fixing what was damaged, but also in making long-lasting needed improvements in other areas. We have been able to fix some things that would have been on the repair list anyway.”

“In some respects, it has been rather fortuitous.”

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