Construction of the next phase of Mayor James J. Fiorentini Bradford Rail Trail, which extends the trail from Basiliere Bridge to just beyond the Crescent Yacht Club, is expected to begin next spring.
Haverhill’s Conservation Commission signed off on the extension last Thursday with an order of conditions. When complete, the walking trail will connect with the public parking lot near the Crescent Yacht Club, public boat ramps to the Merrimack River and George Washington Landing Playground. Conservation Commissioner Ralph T. Basiliere said Thursday the Commission’s conditions govern removal of dead and dying trees, clearing of naturalized vegetation, land subject to flooding and related matters.
“The Commission is very pleased to increase the people’s access to the river. Tonight, we certainly earned our pay,” he said.
The existing rail trail runs between the Comeau and Basiliere bridges and the extension adds another 1,100 feet to be constructed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. It will run under the Basiliere Bridge, following the line of the former Georgetown Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad. According to the state’s consultants, the railroad corridor measures, at its closest, roughly 100 feet from the river, separated by an undeveloped parcel, Crescent Yacht Club and Washington Landing Park. The park will have signage depicting President Washington’s visit to Bradford at that spot of the ferry landing in 1789.
Basiliere noted a rare artifact was discovered and will be kept in place.
“A telltale is a railroad warning device that lets brakemen—who used to ride on top of cars—know that there is a bridge coming and it warns them and they know to lay down until they go underneath the bridge. DOT has elected to keep this rare, historical telltale in place and to maintain as part of the James J. Fiorentini Rail Trail,” he explained.
Originally planned as the Bradford Rail Trail, the Haverhill City Council voted three years ago to name it after Fiorentini. Councilor William J. Macek explained at the time, the mayor “really is the visionary—the one that’s out front and has pushed, at times when I’m going ‘I don’t know if he can pull this off’ to myself, and he always did. He always received more land.”
An impassable railroad bridge trestle, however, will be buried and a scenic overlook will be added.