Public invited to celebrate completion of new stretch of Fiorentini Rail Trail

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Sep. 21—HAVERHILL — Mayor James Fiorentini will host a ribbon-cutting Thursday, Sept. 22, at 4 p.m. in front of Crescent Yacht Club on Ferry Street to celebrate completion of the latest stretch of the city's popular recreational pathway along the Bradford side of the Merrimack River.

The public is invited to the ceremony, and snacks and refreshments will be served, courtesy of the Crescent Yacht Club.

The $1.3 million state-funded project extended the Fiorentini Rail Trail approximately 1,100 feet from the Basiliere Bridge on Route 125 to Railroad Street.

The latest stretch adds to the existing mile-long developed trail that runs opposite the downtown side of the Merrimack River between the Comeau and Basiliere bridges.

Fiorentini said the pathway follows his vision of a recreational trail that encircles downtown and eventually connects to walking trails in Groveland and the Border to Boston Trail and East Coast Greenway.

Plans are already in the works to extend the trail further east along the river, past the yacht club and former Haverhill Paperboard site to the Groveland Community Trail, which is currently under construction, the mayor said.

The new section will be lighted at night and follows the former Georgetown Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad. It includes a 10-foot-wide path with two-foot shoulders, vegetation clearing, drainage and paving. The timber decking on the small railroad bridge near the yacht club was replaced and railings added to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians. The project includes pedestrian lighting, signs, fencing and landscaping.

The new section is close to public parking near the yacht club, public boat ramps to the Merrimack River, and the city's George Washington Landing Playground, also developed during Fiorentini's tenure. The city will soon be erecting signage depicting Washington's visit to Bradford at that spot of the ferry landing in 1789.

Haverhill City Council voted four years ago to name the Bradford rail trail after Fiorentini in recognition of the mayor being the visionary behind it.

State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen, secured additional funding for roadway improvements to the intersection of Ferry and Railroad streets.

The city will be assuming care and custody of the Rail Trail.