(NECN: Kristen Carosa, Worcester, Mass.) – “Here once again East meets West in the center and the heart of the Commonwealth,” said Mass. Lt. Gov. Tim Murray.
That marked a major milestone for the city of Worcester on Monday.
After 40 years, Front Street is now open in the downtown Worcester area to pedestrians and traffic.
“People have recognized the benefits of Worcester,” said city manager Michael O’Brien. “They have recognized the proximity of Worcester to other major metros, all roads lead to and from Worcester and they are putting money where there mouth is.”
A procession of local veterans in several vintage vehicles were the first to drive on the new portion of Front Street on Monday.
For decades, a shopping mall stood between Union Station and City Hall.
Worcester's longstanding City Square project took down most of that mall, allowing the new street to reconnect the city.
“45 years ago, a well-intentioned project created this problem,” Murray said. “13 years ago, a solution was proposed, two years ago we broke ground and today, we reconnect.”
Murray says the project will help connect businesses, neighborhoods and colleges.
Worcester-based Hanover Insurance was among the first to support the project by investing millions.
“People who know our company know we are charitable and we are proud to be that way,” said Frederick Eppinger, CEO of Hanover Insurance Group. “We care about the city but this wasn't about charity this about investment.”
Murray says the opening of Front Street is part the first phase in the redevelopment of City Square.
He says this project will help the region continue to grow.
“Over the next several years. Worcester will be the fastest growing cities in the country and its because of ideas, perseverance and teamwork are part of what we do,” Murray said.