New Bedford's five State Representatives sent a letter to state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack arguing that a portion of the more than $10 million in recently discovered unspent federal earmarks should be spent on State Pier.

Mayor Jon Mitchell has stated in his own letter to Pollack that he wants all the money spent on repairing the new bedford-fairhaven bridge, expanding of freight infrastructure, and extending a rail line that currently ends near the Fairfield Inn & Suites to the Marine Commerce Terminal.

While the mayor believes that these would provide a great economic benefit, State Rep. William Strauss, one of the signatories to the letter, told WBSM News repairs to state pier would address safety concerns and bring a more immediate economic benefit.

"Not only can we bring longer ships into the harbor, but ones that can sustain heavier loads," said Strauss "so, if you want to see immediate economic benefits, I mean within a year, you want to be working on State Pier."

That section of the earmarks equals roughly $5.5 million and Strauss says the language in the legislation clearly states that the funds must be spent on a multi-modal structure in New Bedford and State Pier is the only structure that meets that criteria.

"The language of the statue only says multi-modal facility in New Bedford and what exists today is only state pier," said Strauss.

The $5.5 million earmark was secured by the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Mayor Jon Mitchell is currently on vacation, however WBSM News did reach out to his office and we are awaiting comment from the mayor.

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