SALEM — A $2.5 million federal grant is the city's latest infusion of money for the Salem Wharf project.
The grant dollars come just days after the city learned it would receive $1 million from the Massachusetts Seaport Advisory Council toward upland improvements to the Blaney Street pier's parking area.
"It's significant in terms of trying to jump-start development of the wharf," Mayor Kim Driscoll said of the federal dollars. "Four years ago, we didn't have the ferry. We've come a long way in a short period of time."
The total cost of the municipal wharf project is estimated at $20 million, and project backers expect it to generate $60 million annually for the North Shore.
The expansion of the existing wharf, slated for completion in 2012, will allow the city to attract larger vessels like cruise ships.
The city applied for the $2.5 million Department of Transportation Discretionary Grant in May, said Kathy Winn, deputy director of the city's Planning and Community Development Department. The money will be used toward improvements to the pier that serves the Salem ferry.
"We have other grant applications in," Winn said. "We're hoping to get other money to be able to complete the project."
Salem learned about the grant award last week from Congressman John Tierney and Sen. John Kerry.
In a statement, Tierney described the project as a "key piece of the city's economic development, which is expected to spur job creation and increase transportation options for local residents."
Kerry said the news was great for the city and its visitors.
"Mayor Driscoll and I saw firsthand this summer how a pier at the end of Blaney Street will increase tourism from Boston while easing commuter traffic for the people of Salem," the senator said in the statement.