Major infrastructure projects on tap for 2023 in New Bedford

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WLNE) — Big infrastructure changes are coming to New Bedford in 2023, both by land and by sea.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority South Coast Rail is projected to open before the end of the year, with inbound service to Boston, and the Vineyard Wind project’s progress will become more visible.

Mayor Jon Mitchell said the Vineyard Wind project will move above ground in April and May, with turbines, blades, and foundations arriving on New Bedford’s waterfront.

“That will be a real spectacle,” Mitchell said. “They are enormous and when they’re on land, they’re hard to miss.”

Work has already been underway, with contractors laying cable and building substations, and surveyors deciding where turbines should go.

The project will cost $3.2 billion in total. Mitchell said the city is taking steps to make sure turbines aren’t placed in important fishing habitats, which would risk impacting the city’s already entrenched fishing industry.

“What the offshore wind industry presents New Bedford is a singular opportunity to attract private capital and therefore grow jobs here, grow the kind of jobs that create opportunity for our residents and let them pursue the American dream,” Mitchell said.

On land, commuters to Boston will have a new option — South Coast Rail service from New Bedford.

The main downtown station is set to open in 2023, along with a Church Street station.

Last week, the city announced an agreement with the MBTA to build a new pedestrian bridge over J.F.K. Boulevard, near the Whale’s Tooth ferry parking lot. Construction is set to begin this summer.

That bridge will allow people to walk to the downtown station over Route 18.

A rendering of the new pedestrian bridge over Route 18 (Provided by Mayor Jon Mitchell’s office).

“We insisted that that thing has to look great,” Mitchell said. “It’s a gateway into the city from Route 18 and to the downtown. What we got in the end is a design that will be a real landmark for the city for generations to come.”

Mitchell said he doesn’t expect the availability of rail service to suddenly make New Bedford a commuting hub to Boston, given the trip is more than an hour long. But he cited it as another feather in New Bedford’s cap as it works to become more of a transportation hub, adding to its well-known ferry service on the water.

Work is also underway on a new terminal at the regional airport.

“As we know, there’s been changes in work habits and the workplace/home relationship,” Mitchell said. “People aren’t going into work nearly as much, and so even though it’s a longer train ride, it may offer folks an opportunity to take a train from New Bedford to Boston three days a week. That seems to be more realistic.”

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