On Tuesday, Mayor James Fiorentini announced that Haverhill had submitted its design plans to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation's Highway Division for the Streetscapes Improvement Project.

The project will improve downtown pedestrian access, safety and overall ambiance along Washington and Wingate streets, and includes upgrades to sidewalks, new curbs and ramps, new trees and benches and the widening of sidewalks in key areas.

Perhaps most importantly to local businesses, new "bump-outs" will allow for outdoor dining along Haverhill's Restaurant Row.

"I have long advocated for more sidewalk dining in downtown Haverhill, and I am thrilled that this Streetscapes Improvement Project will provide the infrastructure to allow for this," Fiorentini said. "This project ... will beautify the appearance of our downtown historic district and make this area even more attractive for shoppers, patrons, diners and pedestrians of all kinds."

This project is funded by a 2008 federal earmark obtained by Sen. John Kerry and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas equating to over $350,000.

To quell mounting concerns over parking accessibility, unneeded existing sidewalk bump-outs will be eliminated and returned as additional parking spaces. According to the mayor's office, there will be no negative impact on the parking situation downtown as a result of the improvement project.

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