NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 1, 2014

Water shuttle, bike trail and roadwork eyed for local area

BOSTON — The House of Representatives has passed a $12 billion Transportation Bond Bill that holds about $14 million for 11 projects in Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury that would improve roads, expand rail trails and study the concept of a Merrimack River water shuttle linking the communities.

According to the office of state Rep. Michael Costello, D-Newburyport, the bill, passed unanimously by the state House of Representatives, offers the chance of obtaining funds for projects that extend to 2019.

The projects come with no promises for it’s still in its early days in the legislative process. From the House, the bond bill heads to the Senate for debate and possible changes before state senators vote on it.

“I am committed to working on transportation investment projects and securing funding for those projects in the transportation bond bill once it is taken up in the Senate,” said Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport.

And, it won’t become law until it’s signed by Gov. Duval Patrick.

The bill includes a commitment of $300 million in Chapter 90, or local aid, funding by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo for local road and bridge repairs for fiscal year 2015, which begins on July 1. According to Costello’s District Director Frederick Lucey, this aspect of the bill would allow communities to start planning for next fiscal year’s projects early.

The 11 local projects are intended to enhance public safety, ease of travel, and encourage economic growth in the three communities, according to Costello’s press release. Three local gateways are targeted, including Market Street in Amesbury, Storey Avenue in Newburyport, and North End Boulevard in Salisbury. The Storey Avenue improvements will follow the “Complete Streets” policy concept enabled in this legislation, ensuring convenient travel and access for all modes of transportation.

The “Complete Street” initiative provides accommodations for walking, cycling, public transportation, private vehicles and freight carriers, according to the press release. Lucey said the idea behind Complete Street is to make the major gateways — such as Storey Avenue — “more welcoming to those who use them.”

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