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City officials have finalized a $1.7 million contract with SPS New England Inc. of Salisbury to begin repairs to the central waterfront bulkheads, the vertical walls that stabilize the shoreline and support the boardwalk, pilings, and commercial fish pier. Work on Phase 1 of the project is expected to be completed by mid-May. Built more than 20 years ago, the bulkheads are in poor condition. In addition, several of the mooring piles are corroded and need to be replaced. The city last year hired Bourne Consulting Engineers to design, permit, and manage construction. Overall, the repairs are expected to cost about $5 million and will be done in phases, as resources become available. Phase 1 is being funded in part by a state grant from the Seaport Advisory Council and Department of Conservation and Recreation. The city of Newburyport, the Newburyport Waterfront Trust, the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority, and the Newburyport Harbor Commission also provided funding for the work.