State Announces $3.9 Million Grant to Improve Merrimack Street


LAWRENCE -- No city street is filled with as much hope for recovery as Merrimack Street, where retailers, shoppers, commuters, office workers and residents have been gradually filling up the mile-long row of former mill buildings that once employed thousands.

New Balance, Riverwalk, Monarch Lofts and the McGovern Transportation Center have rooted in the ruins of the empty mills, restoring life to the historic street that, along with the Merrimack River and its canals, separates North Lawrence from South. The New Balance factory and outlet store alone draws 800 people daily, according to the company.

On Tuesday, Merrimack Street will get another boost when the state's top economic development official is scheduled to join Mayor Daniel Rivera at the McGovern transit center to announce a $3.9 million state grant for infrastructure improvements to help the street and neighborhood handle the recent growth.

The grant, from the state's MassWorks Program, will improve the flow of traffic in the corridor, including into and out of the transit center, which provides service to Boston from the last of the Lawrence's rail stations (the city once had seven). Other improvements will make the area more inviting to pedestrians and cyclists, but details were not provided Monday.  

“Filling our mills with jobs is crucial to getting our people back to work and the MassWorks grant will help build-up our aging infrastructure to support commercial development and attract more jobs to Lawrence,” Rivera said in a prepared statement issued by the state Monday.

The MassWorks Program seeds local economic development projects with competitive grants to municipalities. Last year, the program awarded $79 million for 33 projects statewide, including in Lawrence and Haverhill. 

In Lawrence, MassWorks provided $895,000 to improve the connection between Essex Street and the downtown campus that Northern Essex Community College opened in January.

In Haverhill, the program provided $5 million to help revitalize blighted areas of the Merrimack River waterfront, including by improving public access to the river by building a boardwalk, parking areas and public spaces.


By Keith Eddings•  October 21, 2014•  The Eagle Tribune  •  Original Article