The Herald News, Saturday, October 21, 2017 – Page A1

By Jo C. Goode
Email: jgoode@heraldnews.com

Fall River — As shoppers flock to the new $100 million SouthCoast Marketplace it’s resulted in a traffic nightmare, but the announcement Friday of a $2.7 million road project on William S. Canning Boulevard could be a game-changer in the area.

The better news is most of the project will be funded through a state grant.

Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash was in Fall River on Friday to announce the city is the recipient of a $2.5 million MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant during a press conference with the new South End mall as the backdrop.

The MassWorks grant provides money to commonwealth cities and towns seeking funding for infrastructure to spur economic development and job creation.

Part of a billion-dollar economic development spending package with half going to the MassWorks grant program, Ash said, the program aims “to help businesses grow so that people can prosper.”

“The MassWorks program is a classic economic development tool that allows the public to invest in infrastructure that supports private investment,” Ash said.

Steve Cohen, principal of the CEA Group, which redeveloped the former New Harbour Mall, called the mall project a “textbook example of public/private partnerships.”

“And what can be accomplished when you work together to invest in our communities,” Cohen said.

State Rep. Alan Silvia said the work done with the grant money will not only improve the roadway, but improve public safety in that area in the South End.

The road project will span from the current main entrance to SouthCoast Marketplace, constructed by the CEA Group, near Newton Street north to Tucker Street near Rhode Island Avenue and will include the reconstruction of Canning Boulevard, reconfigured traffic signals, replacement of approximately 70 percent of the sidewalks and a component for flood relief and stormwater run-off.

A $200,000 appropriation for the stormwater work will come from the city’s sewer enterprise fund.

“I think this is a very comprehensive and complete project. It will get the road done, which people are excited about, it has the sewer and water component and also the signalization for the benefit of the entire area,” said Mayor Jasiel Correia II previous to the official announcement. “I think it’s notable there were other potential projects for the MassWorks grants and that it was strategic in that a casino is being built up the road. So this was a strategic investment by both the state and the city.”

Twin River in Tiverton is set to open in 2018 up the road from SouthCoast Marketplace where Canning Boulevard and Stafford Road merge on the Fall River-Tiverton line. That portion of the road where ramps come off Route 24 are not included in the project because it is a state-owned road. The project will start on Nov. 1, according to Correia, followed by permitting, design and construction with a completion date set for June 30, 2018.

City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros called it an “aggressive timeline.”

Market Basket located at the SouthCoast Marketplace opened Oct. 7 with thousands of customers visiting the much anticipated newest shopping venue, with T.J.Maxx opening soon after. Multiple other stores and restaurants are set to open in the coming weeks including a 11screen movie theater, which will open on Oct. 27. The CEA Group’s $100 million project and the Market Basket was mentioned in the grant application, which Correia said was helpful in the city securing the grant. This year the EOHED awarded 47 grants totaling nearly $85 million. Last fall the city received a $1.6 million MassWorks grant to help continue the cleanup and preparation for redevelopment at the city pier.