The Aquidneck Land Trust, Preserve Rhode Island, and The Preservation Society of Newport County dedicated the past three years to building support and raising funds to bury the power lines along Sachuest Point Road. Brought together by a shared focus on preserving and enhancing the visual quality of Aquidneck Island’s historic and natural places, the three organizations established the Scenic Aquidneck initiative.  Enlisting the support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in its efforts to increase coastal resiliency, the group has spearheaded the burial of the power lines along the Paradise Valley coastline to improve this important place for the whole community.  

The project is funded through a generous public-private partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the van Beuren Charitable Foundation with additional support from the Prince Charitable Trusts and the Easton's Point Neighborhood Association. Work is currently underway and will be completed by the summer of 2016. 

 


THIS PROJECT WILL:

  • enhance views of the beaches, ponds, streams, reservoirs, and ocean that make up Aquidneck Island's only Scenic Byway,

  • strengthen the resiliency of the utility system along this vulnerable coastal roadway,

  • improve the area's safety for the thousands of pedestrians, cyclists, birders, and surfers that use its hills, sand, trails, and water,

  • ensure reliable electrical, internet, and telephone service to the USFWS Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge,

  • beautify the coastline that many residents and visitors to Second Beach, Third Beach, and Sachuest Point enjoy.

THIS PROJECT IS NEEDED BECAUSE:

  • Newport County was one of the two areas in Rhode Island hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy. [1]

  • Damage from Hurricane Sandy jeopardized some of the key sites and features that define Paradise.

  • This coastal landscape is rich in vegetation and wildlife, however, it is vulnerable for those same reasons.  Its vulnerability escalates during the severe winds and flooding caused by weather events like Hurricane Sandy.

  • The growing frequency of major weather events means that it is increasingly important to secure utilities and strengthen their resiliency for reasons related to life safety, emergency response, and roadway access.

  • Underground utility lines are less susceptible to storm-related risks such as high winds, flooding, and ice and snow weight which can knock poles and lines down, making them unusable and hazardous to pedestrians, the roadway, and the adjacent habitats. 

WHEN HURRICANE SANDY HIT IN OCTOBER 2012:

  • Sachuest Point Road and the adjacent dunes and plant material were severely damaged by tidal surges;

  • High winds knocked out utility poles and lines; 

  • The roadway was destroyed;

  • Repairs to Sachuest Point Road cost more than $868,000.

  • The Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge remained inaccessible for over six months (it reopened in May 2013);

  • The Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge was without power for approximately two weeks;

  • Emergency vehicles couldn't access the refuge;

  • High surf caused unstable banks, severe drop offs right next to walking trails, washed out trails, and over-steepened shoreline access points.

 

[1] Rhode Island Office of Housing and Community Development, State of Rhode Island Action Plan for Disaster Recovery, Utilizing Supplemental CDBG Disaster Recovery Funding from the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013 (Public Law 113-2, approved January 29, 2013), May 2013, pp. 2. 

Sachuest Point Road in 2013, looking west toward St. George's School 

Future view of Sachuest Point Road, looking west toward St. George's School 

Image courtesy USFWS

Image courtesy USFWS

Image courtesy USFWS

Image courtesy USFWS