April 14. 2016 3:06PM
NEW BEDFORD — The goal of building waterfront walkways around much of New Bedford moved a step closer Thursday as the city announced it has secured just over $5 million in state funds to build a second walkway atop the hurricane barrier.
The second walkway will be along Clark’s Cove and called CoveWalk. The HarborWalk along mouth of the Acushnet River opened last fall.
Mayor Jon Mitchell has advocated for the hurricane barrier walkways since he took office and Mayor Scott Lang before him. Mitchell said he invited State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and Highway Administrator Tom Tinlin to the city to view the harborwalk and seek their support for the next phase. “I’ve really worked that idea with them,’’ he said.
“This announcement marks an important step toward achieving our long-term goal of ringing the city with a system of waterside trails that will enrich the quality of life in neighborhoods from the North End to the South End, raise property values, and draw visitors,’’ Mitchell said in a statement. “Our connection to the water is New Bedford’s greatest asset.’’
Work on the CoveWalk should start fairly soon, and might be completed by the end of the year, Mitchell said, because permitting and some design work were done in anticipation of the funding.
The walkways open a new vista to the water that was previously obstructed by the 18-foot-high, 4,600-foot stone wall, which was dedicated in 1966. The barrier was built after the hurricanes of the 1940s and ’50s flooded much of the city, including damaging the mills. The hurricane barrier remains the largest man-made structure on the East Coast of the United States
The popularity of the 3,400-foot long HarborWalk regularly draws walkers and cyclists and has exceeded his expectations, Mitchell said. “On nice days last fall, it certainly could get very crowded,” he said. The city also intends to build a riverwalk along the Acushnet River in the North End as the cleanup of PCBs in the harbor is completed.
State Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, led Senate efforts to secure state funding for the $5 million project. “This long overdue amenity for our residents will foster a further appreciation for our shorelines that have been shielded from public view for over 50 years,” he said in a statement.
“New Bedford Harbor is one of the natural wonders of Massachusetts and today’s state grant will help everyone, local residents and visitors, better experience it,” said State Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral, D-New Bedford in a statement.
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