Friday, March 16, 2018

NH House votes to fund Boston to Manchester passenger rail study

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NH House votes to fund Boston to Manchester passenger rail study File photo

The New Hampshire House of Representatives has voted to designate federal funding to conduct an in-depth financial, engineering and environmental study of a proposed passenger rail expansion project that would connect Boston, Mass., to Manchester.

 

 

The House voted 166-160 to fund the rail expansion's project development phase and include it in the state's Ten Year Transportation Improvement Plan, referred to as House Bill 2018. Going forward, the New Hampshire Senate is set to consider the amended Ten Year Transportation Improvement Plan.

The Capitol Corridor Rail Expansion Project would extend passenger rail from Boston to Manchester, N.H. The system would include two stops in Nashua, N.H., a stop at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and a stop in downtown Manchester, officials said.

"We are extremely pleased members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives listened to the voices of more than 100 statewide businesses and 74 percent of Granite Staters by supporting an amendment to House Bill 2018, which will designate federal funding to undertake an in-depth analysis of passenger rail expansion from Boston to Manchester," said NH Business for Rail Expansion spokesman E.J. Powers.

Powers said he believes the House vote sends a message to businesses that the state is committed to attracting and retaining young talent and bolstering the local economy.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and the Governor's Advisory Commission on Intermodal Transportation (GACIT), which includes the New Hampshire Executive Council, included the $4 million for Project Development in the state's Ten Year Transportation Improvement Plan, officials said.

The $4 million would be covered entirely through federal grants, and would offer a thorough analysis of engineering, environmental and geotechnical factors, as well as a financial plan for expanding passenger rail from Boston to Manchester, officials said.

The NH Capitol Corridor Study, released in 2015, also detailed the potential benefits of a rail expansion. Officials predict that the expansion of rail to New Hampshire could bring 668,000 weekday riders.