Haverhill Dedicates 1,100-Foot Fiorentini Rail Trail Extension; Idea More Than 20 Years in the Making

Mayor James J. Fiorentini cut the ceremonial ribbon with Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua, Colin Kennedy, Danielle Smida, rep. Linda Dean Campbell and Sen. Barry R. Finegold. (WHAV News photograph.)

The sun broke through just long enough yesterday afternoon for Haverhill officials to cut a ceremonial ribbon along an 1,100-foot extension to its rail trail on the Bradford side of the Merrimack River.

The mostly state paid $1.3 million project extended the Mayor James J. Fiorentini Bradford Rail Trail. Community Development Director Andrew K. Herlihy served as master of ceremonies at Crescent Yacht Club, introducing various state and local officials including Fiorentini. The mayor went to great lengths to emphasize he was not the one to name the trail.

“People think I named it after myself. I had nothing to do with it. That was done by the Haverhill City Council,” he said.

Former Haverhill City Councilor William J. Macek spearheaded the effort to reward Fiorentini’s dedication to the project back in 2017. Fiorentini half joked during Thursday’s ceremony that he stole all of the good ideas from other mayors. He credited former Mayor James A. Rurak, for example, with proposing a Bradford rail trail while Fiorentini was still a city councilor.

Re. Linda Dean Campbell. (WHAV News photograph.)

Herlihy said the project was larger in scope than many realize with the need to replace broken sewer lines and electrical utilities and undertake grading. Some of that work, including street paving around Ferry and Railroad Streets, brought state assistance sponsored by Rep. Linda Dean Campbell.

Campbell said it was the large group of residents pushing for the project that delivered success.

“Let me tell you something. Unless you have a committed group of people in your community that really, really want a rail trail, it doesn’t happen,” she said.

Sen. Barry R. Finegold. (WHAV News photograph.)

Campbell related the story of a family new to Haverhill that found solace walking the rail trail with their baby who is tired, but not ready for bed at 6 p.m. They later walked the entire circle, going downtown to the Saturday Farmers Market and coming back to Bradford.

Others taking part in the ceremony were state Rep. Andy X. Vargas; Sen. Barry R. Finegold; City Councilors Melinda E. Barrett and Joseph J. Bevilacqua; advocates such as Danielle Smida, Colin Kennedy and Thomas Wylie; and others.

As of now, the project is 99% complete, with some signage and plantings left, including a sign depicting President Washington’s visit to Bradford at that spot of the ferry landing in 1789. Additionally, an old ‘tell-tale’ hanging chain, indicating low train clearance, and granite used in former rail infrastructure was preserved and reused.

Comments are closed.