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STATE SENATOR EDWARD KENNEDY
First Middlesex District
In the early morning hours of Wednesday Jan. 6, as the State Senate wrapped up the 2019-2020 legislative session, a $16.5 billion Transportation Bond Bill was approved and sent to Gov. Charlie Baker for his signature.
Sen. Ed Kennedy (Lowell-D) was particularly pleased that the Transportation Investment Conference Committee, tasked with reconciling the versions of the bond bill passed by the Senate and House earlier in the session, retained the language from the Senate bill authorizing the borrowing of $100 million for the construction of a new four-lane permanent Rourke Bridge in Lowell.
“It has been a long journey, but providing bond authorization to construct the four-lane permanent bridge we will guarantee that the construction money will be available as soon as the alignment and design study is completed in 2022,” said Kennedy.
“The new permanent bridge will have a positive impact on economic development, reduce the traffic congestion on the existing bridges across the Merrimack River, and improve access to Lowell General Hospital,” he added. “Additionally, the new bridge will bring many construction jobs to the Greater Lowell area.”
The current bridge, which honors the public service of former Mayor Raymond Rourke and his son, State Rep. Timothy Rourke, was built in 1983 and opened in October 1985.
The $8 million, two-lane Bailey pony truss bridge that crosses the Merrimack River, connecting the city’s Highlands and Pawtucketville neighborhoods was built as a temporary structure. Today, nearly 40 years later, 28,000 vehicles traverse the aging span daily.
In addition to the Rourke Bridge funding, the Transportation Bond Bill includes several improvements across the First Middlesex District, including:
- $650,000 for paving and reconstruction of the Nashua River Rail Trail in Ayer, Groton, Pepperell, and Dunstable.
- $100,000 for improvements on Route 113 in Dunstable.
- $350,000 for improvements and repairs on Route 119 in Groton.
- $900,000 for multi-modal transportation and safety improvements on Middlesex Road in Tyngsboro.
- $2,085,000 for the rehabilitation of and pedestrian safety improvements to Oak Hill Road in Westford.
- $100,000 for engineering studies for various bridges in Pepperell.
- $3,315,000 for repairs to the Suffolk Street Bridge over the Northern Canal in Lowell.