Stairway to Whittier Bridge going up in Amesbury

BRYAN EATON/Staff photoA stairway is being constructed from the Garrison Trail down to the Amesbury Visitor Center next to the Interstate 95 bridge over Main Street.

AMESBURY — Drivers and pedestrians entering the city from the Chain Bridge may have seen the new stairway being built that will lead them directly onto Interstate 95 beginning next fall.

The state finished the $318 million John Greenleaf Whittier Bridge on Interstate 95 and opened the shared-use path known as the William Lloyd Garrison Trail alongside the highway in October 2018.

Although a pair of trailheads in Amesbury and Newburyport feed pedestrians and bikers onto the path, the state is now building a $3.2 million trailhead and stairway from the parking lot of a former gas station on the city’s border with Newburyport that will serve as the third entrance.

“That will be a little parking lot with a trailhead,” Coastal Trails Coalition Director Jerry Klima said. “You’ll be able to go up and down and it will be really neat. This is something that adds to the quality of life for the whole area.”

Klima said he recently had a meeting with the Massachusetts Highway Department and was told the stairway and connection to the Garrison Trail should be completed by October 2020.

Route 110 motorists in Amesbury and Salisbury have also been able to see progress on the development of the Carriage Town Connector trail, which will run under I-95 between the Ghost Trail in Salisbury and Elm Street in Amesbury.

Although construction of the connector is scheduled to be completed in 2020, a missing link tying Elm Street to its terminus at Riverwalk Trail still needs to be nailed down.

“This ends at Elm Street so it really doesn’t connect to Carriage Town Connector yet,” Klima said. “We are trying to go to the next step, which really will be the Carriage Town Connector but there is one gap left to connect from the Riverwalk around the Carriage Town Marketplace to the trail connector at Elm Street.”

Construction is also underway on a $5.6 million, 2.3-mile northern extension of Salisbury’s shared-use pathway network running from the Merrimack River to New Hampshire’s Seacoast area.

Klima said the trail connector via Route 286 at the Salisbury/Seabrook border is also expected to be completed in 2020.

“This will go from the northern end of this extension to the Seabrook Firemans Association parking lot on Route 286,” Klima said. “So we have a short, interstate trail that the town, Coastal Trails and the Friends of Seabrook Rail Trails are building right now and it should be completed by the spring. The Seabrook Firemans Association owns an old fire station there and they donated a big part of the land to the Town of Salisbury and the Friends of the Seabrook Rail Trail to build this trail. It is a three-party, cooperative effort.”

The northern extension is expected to cross Route 1 by way of a pedestrian bridge and will be able to connect either to the Ghost Trail running east to west from Lion’s Park to Rabbit Road or south to the Old Eastern Marsh Trail.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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