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Federal funding advances for Somersworth sidewalk project

SOMERSWORTH - The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill Friday that could eventually provide $300,000 for the city's sidewalk project.

The project is aimed at refurbishing parts of Main and High streets in the hopes of improving the area and attracting new business to the Hilltop City.

The $300,000 was included in the Fiscal Year 2011 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations bill, which is now ready for consideration by the full senate, according to U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

"These improvements are great news for downtown Somersworth," said Shaheen in a statement. "After years of wear and tear, this assistance will make Main Street safer and more accessible, which will help bring small businesses and jobs back downtown."

City officials said this funding will be used to refurbish the roads around Main Street, which are marked with holes, heaves and uneven surfaces, as well as add bicycle lanes. The work is projected to create nine full-time jobs.

"The City of Somersworth is extremely pleased to hear of the Congressional support for our Downtown Infrastructure Project, and is grateful to Senator Shaheen for supporting this invaluable project," wrote Somersworth City Planner Dave Sharples in an e-mail. "Improvements to the city's aging urban core are sorely needed as it will spur economic development and promote the city as being a highly desirable place to live, work, and play.

"This funding will help us develop an attractive, inviting, and accessible downtown, which, in turn, will promote sustainable future growth in the Seacoast."

Sharples has previously told Foster's he expects the planning process to be completed within a year, and construction on the area possibly starting by November 2011.