Most Vulnerable Roads, Bridges to Sea-Level Rise Identified

Main Street in Warren, R.I., is one of the state’s most vulnerable roads to sea-level rise. This photo was taken in March 2014 during heavy rains and coastal flooding. (Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News)

Main Street in Warren, R.I., is one of the state’s most vulnerable roads to sea-level rise. This photo was taken in March 2014 during heavy rains and coastal flooding. (Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News)

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — As President Trump quashes programs and regulations that curb carbon emissions, the likelihood of harm to southern New England from climate change only worsens. In particular, the added emissions from vehicles and power plants make it more likely that sea-level rise climbs to the upper limits of estimates of almost 10 feet by the end of the century.

To prepare for this projected inundation, the Rhode Island Division of Planning identified roads and bridges most likely to be underwater as the tides climb higher and waves push further inland.

Some of the department's findings: 175 miles of roads are exposed to sea-level rise; 572 miles of roads are exposed to sea-level rise and flooding from storm surge; 90 bridges are exposed to sea-level rise; 148 bridges are exposed to sea-level rise and flooding from storm surge.

The state's 10 most vulnerable roads to sea-level rise are:

Hope Street in Bristol
Memorial Boulevard in Newport
Wampanoag Trail in Barrington
Conanicus Avenue in Jamestown
County Road north in Barrington
North Road in Jamestown
County Road in Barrington
Beach Street in Narragansett
Main Street in Warren
Highway 24 South in Tiverton

Rhode Island's 10 most vulnerable roads to sea-level rise and storm surge are:

County Road north in Barrington
Phillips Street in North Kingstown
America's Cup Avenue in Newport
Route 138 West on-ramp in Newport
Hope Street in Bristol
Highway 24 North in Portsmouth
Centerville Road in Warwick
Narragansett Avenue in Narragansett
Main Street in Warren
Route 138 West in Jamestown

The state's 10 most vulnerable bridges to sea-level rise are:

Barrington Bridge on Route 114/County Road in Barrington
Warren Bridge on Route 114/County Road in Warren
Silver Creek Bridge on Hope Street in Bristol
Apponaug Bridge on Post Road in Warwick
Apponaug Mill Bridge on Centerville Road in Warwick
Easton’s Beach Bridge on Memorial Boulevard in Middletown
CL Hussey Memorial Bridge on Boston Neck Road in North Kingstown
Eagle Street Bridge on Eagle Street in Providence
Round Swamp Bridge on North Main Road in Jamestown
Park Street Bridge on Park Street in Providence

Rhode Island's 10 most vulnerable bridges to sea-level rise and storm surge are:

Warwick Avenue Bridge on Route 117 in Warwick
Newport Bridge in Jamestown
Silver Creek Bridge on Hope Street in Bristol
Easton's Beach Bridge on Memorial Boulevard in Middletown
Apponaug Bridge on Post Road in Warwick
Apponaug Mill Bridge on Centerville Road in Warwick
Carpenters Corner Bridge on Centerville Road in Warwick
Cottage Home Bridge on Warwick Avenue in Warwick
Babbitt Farm Bridge on Post Road in Warwick
Barrington Bridge on Route 114/County Road in Barrington

Overall, Warwick, Narragansett, Newport, Barrington and Providence are the top five municipalities most vulnerable to climate change-related road damage.

The study didn't look at areas vulnerable to river flooding and erosion. Adaptation methods to rising ocean waters and intrusive storms include stone and natural barriers, raising and fortifying structures, and abandoning and rerouting roads and bridges.

The Coastal Resources Management Council is leading state efforts to consider these solutions through data gathering and modeling. Its Shoreline Change Special Area Management Plan (Beach SAMP), followed by a Metro Bay SAMP, are expected to help cities and towns plan for encroaching waters and flooding, and adapt to the impacts of storms, wind, storm surges and marine debris.

On April 12, a House committee approved a bill that requires local planning boards to receive training every two years on the effects of sea-level rise.