For some time now, visitors to Chepachet’s Main Street area have been greeted by large, ugly, orange barrels at the center and most scenic part of town. Several months ago, state officials closed the sidewalks over the Chepachet River creating not only an eyesore but also kick in the ribs to already struggling local shops and businesses.
In case you are wondering why it is considered dangerous to walk over the bridge yet perfectly safe to drive over it in a Mack truck, officials point out that the sidewalks are built separately and are only attached to the main bridge, and are not part of the main span itself. The main bridge has been deemed safe. Images of dozens of future Ancients & Horribles revellers plunging into the rocky rapids caused state officials to take this immediate action.
So, when will the sidewalks be fixed? Local shops have taken up the issue as the cause celebre when pointing to the deteriorating economy of the village. At a recent meeting, Rep. Scott Pollard said he had met with local and RI DOT officials, and was assured the bridge would be repaired in 2010.
But a repaired bridge will not return prosperity to Chepachet. The same old issues remain — vacant storefronts, lack of town water, poor drainage — which will need to be solved before any reasonable level of prosperity has even a chance to return to the village