Recently, state officials unveiled a project to rehabilitate and strengthen the century-old train bridge that crosses the Merrimack River at the western end of downtown. Officials said the $60 million project will begin this fall and be completed by the end of 2016.
In preparation for that work, the MBTA last year bought a 30,000-square-foot piece of property on the Bradford side of the river near the Comeau Bridge to use as a staging area for the bridge repair project. The availability of the land, which was owned by Pan Am Railways, was triggered when the railroad company received a $65,000 private offer for the irregularly shaped property that contains open land and two buildings. One of the buildings is a liquor store and the other is a social club. The city was looking to purchase the riverfront land as an entrance to the Bradford Rail Trail.
Fiorentini said he met with MBTA officials and asked them to make sure there’s an area for parking and ensure the rail trail will able to connect to where the nearby Skateland roller skating rink is located.
Andrew Herlihy, who works in the city’s community development office and is involved in developing the rail trail walking and biking area, said he expects the MBTA will sell the land when the bridge repair project is completed.
“The city will have first right to purchase it, if the city is still interested,” Herlihy said.