BELFAST, Maine — City officials were thrilled this week to learn that Belfast has been awarded a $1.9 million federal grant to help reconstruct Front Street.
“We think it’s a very big deal,” Thomas Kittredge, Belfast’s economic development director, said Wednesday. “The reconstruction of Front Street is a project that’s been around [a long time], even predating the arrival of Front Street Shipyard.”
Since the recent addition of the Front Street Shipyard, the sardine packing plant that had sat abandoned for years there has been replaced by a busy business with lots of employees and a lot of heavy boats and machinery going in and out along the road. But future growth, both at the Front Street Shipyard and other businesses in the area, is dependent on fixing the road, city officials said last year while considering doing the work.
The grant, distributed through the U.S. Economic Development Administration, will be used to help realign the street, replace sewer lines and water mains, put in storm drains, move electrical poles and wires and construct some sidewalk and pedestrian amenities. Construction should start next spring.
The federal funds will pay for half of the project, which city officials estimated last year would cost $3.8 million.
The Belfast Water District, a partner with the city on the grant, will spend $630,000 to do the work. The city will pay for the remaining $1.27 million of the project, Kittredge said.
The work will reconstruct the road from Main Street to Pierce Street, close to Penobscot McCrum’s potato processing plant.
“This will support both Front Street Shipyard and Penobscot McCrum,” Kittredge said. “They both made the case that this was an important project to get funded.”
U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King both wrote letters in support of Belfast’s grant application. The city competed for the money in a region that extends all the way to Philadelphia, according to Kittredge.
“This funding will have a positive ripple effect throughout the economy and will lead to the creation of new jobs,” Collins said in a news release issued Tuesday.
King also had positive words about the economic news.
“This welcomed investment in infrastructure will not only create jobs, but will also help support the continued economic growth of the area,” he said.