Sen. Lydia Edwards Secures $200K for Eastie Programs in Senate Version of Budget

Last week the state Senate approved a nearly $50 billion budget with Senator Lydia Edwards able to earmark $200,000 for East Boston-based programs and initiatives as well as another $1 million for a regional ferry.

Edwards’ $1 million amendment, by far her largest earmark during the senator’s first budget negotiations since being elected this past winter, will be used to operate a regional water ferry that would connect Eastie, Winthrop, Lynn, Quincy, and the North End. The ferry extension will add Lynn and Eastie to the Winthrop and Quincy line and bring it under the MBTA.

Edwards said this ferry will mitigate transportation as MassDOT begins its project next month to overhaul the Sumner Tunnel with weekend closures culminating in a four month closure in 2023.

“I was proud to work with my colleagues in the legislature to secure the funds for the necessary mitigation,” said Edwards. “The closing of the Sumner Tunnel impacts the entire region. The funds will be used to subsidize and expand ferry service within the MBTA. We need to be investing in our waterfront transportation.”

Edwards said the $1 million in funding will be used next year when the tunnel is shut down between May and September.

Earlier this month Rep. Adrian Madaro and Rep. Aaron Miclewtiz, Chairman of Ways and Means, earmarked $1 million in the House version of the state budget to expand the Eastie ferry pilot program. The earmark will ensure ferry service continues to run between Eastie and the North End until November 20222 with the hopes of continuing regular ferry service between the two neighborhoods indefinitely.

Edwards’ earmark expanded on this effort beyond November with the hopes of creating a more regional ferry program once the Sumner Tunnel is under construction.

As far as Eastie-specific programs and initiatives Edwards secured $50,000 for the Friends of Belle Isle. This money will allow the group to continue their preservation program’s at the marsh.

“Salt marshes like Belle Isle offer various environmental and economic benefits, as our region is increasingly threatened by a rising sea level and temperatures,” said Edwards.

Another $50,000 was secured to combat substance abuse and homlesness in Eastie as well as other parts of her district.

Another $50,000 earmark will go towards Zumix so the popular music and performing arts non-profit can host a Latino Heritage Festival.

Finally, Edwards secured $50,000 to expand East Boston High School’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) program as well as the high school’s youth guidance initiative.

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