Advocates not derailed by Senate vote to eliminate funding for Capitol Corridor rail project

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Senate eliminated funds for further rail study from capital budget.
Senate eliminated funds for further rail study from capital budget.

MANCHESTER, NH – Both presidents of the state’s two largest Chamber of Commerce – the Greater Manchester Chamber and the Greater Nashua Chamber – issued a joint statement Thursday in response to a May 28 vote by the NH Senate on HB 25, the state’s Capital Budget, the final version of which did not include funding for the continued analysis of the Capitol Corridor project, that would return passenger rail to the Nashua-Manchester corridor.

Governor Maggie Hassan had proposed $4 million in her Capital Budget that would have allowed for site engineering studies to occur, which are the required next step in the federal process to determine the cost and benefit to the state and region for extending rail from Lowell, Mass., to Manchester.

The Greater Nashua and Manchester Chambers have closely collaborated on the Capitol Corridor project for many years, and say they intend to continue working with policymakers to find other opportunities related to expanding New Hampshire’s economic base by returning passenger rail to the Capitol Corridor.

Their statement is below:

“While we are very disappointed by today’s vote, we recognize that this effort to return passenger rail to the Nashua-Manchester corridor is a marathon rather than a sprint,” said the statement signed jointly by Tracy Hatch, Greater Nashua Chamber CEO, and Michael Skelton, Greater Manchester Chamber CEO.

Over the past 12 years, we have slowly but steadily made progress forward on this initiative, including the creation and preservation of the NH Transit Rail Authority; the establishment of a liability cap for future rail operations; the successful execution of the federal feasibility study; and, the current agreement between the MBTA and Pan Am Rail for operation of passenger rail along the Nashua-Manchester corridor. These are all strong signs of progress made over the past 12 years, and today’s decision, while disappointing, will not deter us from finding other opportunities to advance this initiative.

The corridor between Nashua and Manchester houses the lion’s share of our state’s economic output. Extending passenger rail through Nashua and to Manchester has the potential to exponentially expand this corridor’s economic footprint, and therefore positively impact the economy of the entire state by allowing more development along the corridor and attracting more companies to locate along the corridor.

Policymakers need to have a clear picture on the costs and benefits of passenger rail before making a final decision on whether or not to invest in it, which is why funding the engineering and environmental analysis phase is so critical. New Hampshire cannot afford to ignore exploring economic opportunities like passenger rail.”

Tracy Hatch

President and CEO

Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce

Michael Skelton

President and CEO

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

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About Carol Robidoux 5503 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.