NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 18, 2013

Ceremony, Art Stroll mark opening of Rail Trail Connector

SALISBURY — The Gillis Bridge Rail Trail Connector is in the spotlight this weekend.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday marked the official opening of the $1 million, one-quarter-mile project, and the Salisbury Art Stroll today will also celebrate the new connector and the seven murals that decorate it.

The connector, which links the Old Eastern Marsh Trail and Newburyport’s Clipper City Trail, allows walkers and bicyclists to safely cross Route 1 by traveling under the bridge.

“We all realized that trying to get over to the other side, you took your life into your hands,” state Rep. Michael Costello said during his opening remarks at yesterday’s ceremony.

“It took a great effort to get this done,” Costello said, acknowledging the efforts of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, as well as Larry Pleau of Bridge Marina and John Golden, who donated land to the project.

“Not only do we have a rail trail, we have a waterfront park here,” Costello said. “It’s a multimillion-dollar view.”

State Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, who chairs the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, called the connector “an amazing hub for tourism.”

“This is an amazing framing of the vista in Newburyport,” she said.

“All it comes down to are these really critical connector pieces,” said Bill Steelman, director of heritage development for the Essex National Heritage Commission, who attended yesterday’s ceremony. “This is an important connection that was made today.”

Jerry Klima, a former Salisbury selectman who helped select the murals and organized the Art Stroll with Salisbury Planning Director Lisa Pearson and Assistant Planner Leah Hill, said he is happy with the way the connector turned out.

“It’s beyond what we ever could have thought,” he said after yesterday’s ceremony. He said he is hoping for a large turnout today, so people can “take a stroll and visit this new wonderful place.”

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