NEW BEDFORD — Mayor Jon Mitchell welcomed back state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack about a year and a half after their first discussion of the CoveWalk.
Pollack returned Wednesday to New Bedford with Gov. Charlie Baker to witness the fruits of the state’s $5 million investment for the official ribbon-cutting of the CoveWalk.
“When you walk over the walkway and take a look out and see what’s behind you, it’s an ‘oh, wow moment,’” Baker said. “It gives us all the ability to help people in this community remember where they are, which is sitting here on this beautiful harbor.”
Mitchell joked that when he and Pollack first discussed the CoveWalk, they faced even worse elements compared to the strong steady breeze they dealt with on Wednesday.
It’s located atop the New Bedford Hurricane Barrier on the west side of the South End peninsula on Clark’s Cove. The CoveWalk measures 5,500 feet, more than 2,000 feet longer than the HarborWalk, located on the east side of the peninsula.
“When people come to our city, from now on, we want people to think not only of the Whaling Museum and the fishing industry, but also the great public spaces like this,” Mitchell said.
The official opening of the walkway is the latest addition to “The Blue Lane,” a name the city labeled the walking and bike paths that span the city’s 11-mile shoreline.
Mitchell handed Baker, Pollack and their staff members commemorative “Blue Lane” water bottles before the ribbon-cutting.
“Everyone should have a chance to have something like this in their community,” Mitchell said. “New Bedforders have deserved something like this for the last 50 years. So that’s what’s most pleasing about it.”
Construction began on the hurricane barrier in 1962 and was completed in 1966. The barrier remains the largest man-made structure on the East Coast of the United States.
Until recently, they also blocked a view of the waterfront.
“While it does a great job of protecting everybody from Mother Nature’s worst days, the problem with that is you don’t have the ability without this type of walk way to appreciate what’s on the other side,” Baker said.
P.A. Landers and Seguin Enterprises completed the construction that included 2,230 cubic yards of concrete, 11,100 feet of aluminium railing and 44,300 feet of electric wiring to power the 230 light fixtures.
The 13-inch concrete foundation of the walkway actually stabilizes the the hurricane barrier, Mitchell said, making it stronger than before in more ways that one.
“There’s a lot happening here,” Mitchell said. “We think that in a few years you’re going to see continued private investment here.”
Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonnerSCT.
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