Rhode Island seeks federal funds to fix iconic Newport Cliff Walk

Jun 14, 2023, 9:24 AM

FILE - City officials and a private engineering group representatives peer down at debris of a coll...

FILE - City officials and a private engineering group representatives peer down at debris of a collapsed section of the historic Cliff Walk, March 15, 2022, in Newport, R.I. Gov. Dan McKee issued a disaster declaration on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, that will allow the state Department of Transportation to apply for $10 million in emergency relief funds from the Federal Highway Administration. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island wants federal funds to help pay some of the nearly $14 million it will take to repair Newport’s damaged Cliff Walk, one of New England’s most popular attractions.

Gov. Dan McKee issued a disaster declaration on Tuesday that will allow the state Department of Transportation to apply for $10 million in emergency relief funds from the Federal Highway Administration.

Coastal erosion knocked out about 30 feet (9 meters) of the 3.5-mile (5.6 kilometer) paved trail in March 2022, which winds its way beside Gilded Age mansions and offers spectacular views of the ocean. No one was hurt.

The path sustained additional damage during a December storm.

It remains open with a detour around the damage.

“The collapse and the partial closure could cause significant harm to Newport tourism, a top driver of the local economy,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. “The impacted area is now closed because it is at risk of further erosion and collapse, which poses a threat to public safety.”

A study published in 2018 estimated that more than 1.3 million people walk the path annually boosting the local economy by $200 million.

“When I took office at the end of last year I immediately began seeking help to fix the Cliff Walk,” Mayor Xay Khamsyvoravong said. “Restoring this iconic American vista for future generations to enjoy will require local, state and federal partnership, which the governor is opening a pathway to with this declaration.”

This is not the first time the state has sought federal funding to repair the Cliff Walk. In 2013, Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse helped secure $5.13 million to make repairs following Superstorm Sandy.

“The federal government should do its part to ensure the safety and sustainability of this national treasure,” Reed said in a statement.

The state estimates comprehensive Cliff Walk repairs could cost up to $13.75 million.


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Rhode Island seeks federal funds to fix iconic Newport Cliff Walk