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Is fixing Newport’s Cliff Walk a wise investment?
Just over a year ago, the collapse of an approximately 20-foot portion of the Newport Cliff Walk raised alarm throughout the state. Damage to Newport’s famed tourist attraction isn’t anything new – in 2012, for example, a washout from Hurricane Sandy forced the city to close more than half of the 3½-mile oceanside walkway for…
We absolutely can and should repair the Cliff Walks. It is entirely possible to engineer a solution that makes the cliff walks resistant to climate change. Anyone who has gone and walked the Cliff Walks can tell you that it is economically important to Newport and Rhode Island and gives the City and our region a unique sense of place. There will always be naysayers who bring up climate change regardless of the issue at hand. It’s a false dilemma. If our local and state governments are willing to let the Cliff Walks fail due to fears of climate change that can be addressed through engineering, why should we even rebuild anything at all – why not just give up? Retreating in the face of challenges that are addressable, is a new type of nihilism. I don’t think the public is willing to give up so easy. Engineers know how to design seawalls and retaining walls. As for economics, sometimes the only reason my wife and I go to Newport is to go for a walk at the Cliff Walk or Sachuest Wild Life Sanctuary. Afterward, we also decide to stick around Newport for dinner. Let’s not overthink this issue.