NORTH ANDOVER (CBS) — Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito spent Saturday touring local shops and restaurants in the Merrimack Valley.

The event was an effort to highlight how far businesses in Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence have come since natural gas explosions rocked the region in September.

“They’ve done great work. People are up and operating and their customers are coming back and we thought it was important to highlight that as part of this inaugural tour,” said Baker.

Gov. Charlie Baker eyes some desserts at a local Merrimack Valley bakery during his inaugural tour Saturday (WBZ-TV)

He also agreed with town managers that Columbia Gas should pay for the repaving of streets and sidewalks damaged as a result of the gas disaster and following repairs.

The Sept. 13 gas explosions, caused by an overpressurized gas main owned by Columbia Gas, has been under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The probe has since been put on hold because of the federal government shutdown.

“I’ve said for a while that the shutdown, every day it goes by, it creates problems and that’s a good example of one,” said Baker of the NTSB probe.

He continued, “Massachusetts has a tremendous amount of folks who are involved in all kinds of technology projects for the federal government. A lot of those folks are currently on furlough and the work they do, that matters, but more importantly, the work they do pays their mortgage and their rent and their food bills and their electric bills.”

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