Celebration slated Wednesday on Clipper City Rail Trail's shoreline stretch

DAVE ROGERS/Staff photoAmy Wacks of Newbury takes her dog for a walk while checking out the new shoreline section of the Clipper City Rail Trail, which will be celebrated  at 4 p.m. Wednesday with a ribbon cutting, band and food. 

NEWBURYPORT — Mayor Donna D. Holaday will host a ribbon cutting Wednesday afternoon, June 9, to mark the completion of the shoreline resiliency and rail trail project – the last key piece of the city’s popular 2½-mile walking and biking path.

Holaday will be joined at the 4 p.m. event by members of the Newburyport City Council, state Sen. Diana DiZoglio, representatives from the Community Preservation Committee, Parks Commission, Water and Sewer Commission, Resiliency Committee and contractors for the project.

The project involved construction of a sloped stone revetment wall that stabilizes some 900 feet of the Merrimack River shoreline, protecting the city’s wastewater treatment facility. Workers constructed an elevated berm behind the wall, and a paved trail on top completes the missing riverfront segment of the Clipper City Rail Trail.

“The city acquired this land from the railroad 15 years ago, and we have worked through many challenges over the years to get to this day,” Holaday said in a statement. “It is thrilling to see this significant step toward greater climate resilience for the community as well as opening this beautiful new section of Rail Trail along the Merrimack River.”

In 2018, significant storms caused erosion and flooding across the previous rail corridor and up to the wastewater treatment plant, highlighting the vulnerability of the plant and the trail to storm surge and rising seas.

The city cleaned up contaminated soil, containing PCBs, discovered on part the site after the storms, and construction began in December. Trail users have used a detour along Water Street during construction.

The city received a $1 million grant from the commonwealth’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program and a $100,000 grant from the state’s MassTrails Grant Program and local match funding.

At the ribbon-cutting event, the Hot Tamale Brass Band of Boston will perform traditional New Orleans jazz, Dixieland and second line music. The band will lead a short parade along the waterfront trail, approximately a quarter-mile long and ending at 115 Water St.

At this location, Metzy’s Taqueria food truck will be stationed next to the trial with gourmet tacos for sale.

The shoreline section of the trail is at the intersection of the Clipper City Rail Trail and Joppa Park, near 181 Water St. Parking is available on the intersecting side streets.

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