Major improvements are coming to New Bedford's downtown after the announcement of a state infrastructure grant Thursday morning. 

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito was joined by Mayor Jon Mitchell, Sen. Mark Montigny, Rep. Antonio Cabral and Rep. Robert Koczera to award the city a $2.5 million MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant to be used for streetscape improvements along Union St. from North Water St. to North Sixth St.. Projects will include improvements to sidewalks, intersections and roadways.

"Our vision as an administration is to really build a stronger Massachusetts from the grassroots up," said Polito. "If we can empower and resource and help local government perform better and be able to engage better about vision planning like this and actually see these things get done then we are doing our job."

Underground utility work will also be covered by $1.3 million in city funds, according to Mitchell.

Mitchell added that the vision the city has for the area is focused on putting people first.

"It's really important that we spend time and energy thinking hard about how people feel about places, as it is with Union Street," Mitchell said.

The Union St. project is focused on generating private investment in what Polito called the city's "Transformative Development Initiative district."

Rep. Antonio Cabral says the MassWorks Program is huge in driving investment into integral parts of the city here in New Bedford and across the Commonwealth.

"It's the kind of program to really fix or create a better infrastructure in a particular section of the city, in this case it's downtown, to be the catalyst, if you will, of private investment," Cabral said.

According to the city's application, construction is expected to begin in April 2017 and run through the end of November.