NEWPORT — USDA Rural Development recently announced a $119,637 disaster relief grant awarded to the city of Newport, to make streetscaping improvements.
The initiative aims to make the downtown area safer and more attractive for pedestrians, bikers, and motorists, and create easier navigation to surrounding recreational opportunities.
Funds were provided through the Community Facilities Disaster Relief Grant program, as the area was affected by flooding in 2018.
“Newport offers legitimate four-season opportunities for outdoor recreation, shopping, and dining,” acting State Director for USDA Rural Development, Cheryl Ducharme said. “It is a growing hub of economic development in the Northeast Kingdom, and this funding will improve safety while adding life, light, color, and texture to the downtown area.”
Newport City Manager Laura Dolgin says the project is critically important to the city’s transformation into a destination attraction.
“We are thrilled to receive this type of recognition from the USDA, and we are equally thrilled to have the opportunity to advance one of the many projects highlighted in the Waterfront and Downtown Master Plan,” Dolgan said.
The project will include upgrading and rehabilitating roadways along Main Street, focusing on improved visibility, ADA accessibility, and pedestrian and motorist safety.
Intersection alignment, traffic signals, lighting, and signage are projected points of improvement, with results expected to impact consumer activity and increase the length of visitor stays.
In 2000, the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont was federally recognized under the Rural Economic Area Partnership program, established to address critical issues related to constraints in economic activity and growth.
Among recent investments through various programs, USDA Rural Development awarded a $250,000 grant to the Northern Community Investment Corporation in 2018, funding that impacted Newport significantly.