EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 22, 2014

Bond bill may send $35.5M to Haverhill

Andover, North Andover, Lawrence and Methuen may also have millions coming in

A $12.7 billion transportation bond bill signed by Gov. Deval Patrick last week could provide up to $35.5 million for projects in Haverhill — the most of any community in the area.

The bill, which received overwhelming legislative support, authorizes the state to borrow money for the rehabilitation and repair of the Basiliere Bridge, the redevelopment of the Merrimack Street Garage and the continued planning and construction of the Bradford Rail Trail.

“The authorization of these funds will provide Haverhill with further opportunities to address the needs of our city’s infrastructure and will help with the continued redevelopment of downtown Haverhill and the river,” state Rep. Brian S. Dempsey, D-Haverhill, said last week. Dempsey chairs the House Ways & Means committee.

The Haverhill projects, which will be funded as bonds are sold, are based upon the Commonwealth’s Five Year Capital Investment plan that sets out the timelines and amounts for hundreds of projects around the state — many which have been under consideration for years. For instance, the Basiliere Bridge, which could receive up to $30 million — if the governor appropriates the money — has been on the state list of transportation improvements for more than a decade.

In addition, the city could receive $1.5 million in Chapter 90 funding for local road and bridge repairs for the fiscal year 2015, which begins July 1. The bond bill (H 4046) authorizes $300 million statewide to help municipalities pay for a year’s worth of local transportation projects. Patrick’s signing of the bond bill enables the state Department of Transportation to move forward with these projects as early as this week, according to state Transportation Secretary Richard Davey.

“It’s a great first step,” Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini said of the potential improvements that could be made in his city.

“But, it doesn’t mean these projects will actually get done it. It’s an authorization, not an appropriation. It only becomes real when the governor appropriates the money. I don’t like to oversell the transportation bond. Without this first step, we can’t get anywhere,” he said.

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