Aldermen support downtown rail station concept

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A preliminary map of the proposed Granite/Valley multi-platform hybrid station

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) gave support to moving forward on a proposed downtown “hybrid” passenger rail station.

The station, which is still in the preliminary phase, would create a platform along Canal Street from Granite Street to Market Basket and another platform at the end of Valley Street near Firestone Complete Auto Care and across from Delta Dental Stadium.

According to information submitted to the BMA for Tuesday night’s meeting, the Valley Street platform will eventually have a focus as a multi-modal transportation hub for other forms of transportation options including possible connections to local rail trail networks.

The two platforms would serve as a terminus for the planned extension of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) commuter rail line extension from Lowell, with other stops planned near Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, Crown Street in Nashua and at a location to be determined in South Nashua. If needed, a panel of experts at the meeting led by Manchester Senior Planner Jodie Nazaka said that the terminus could be moved to Concord, as was originally planned in 2014.

At Tuesday’s meeting, it was noted that the airport location would likely have more long-term parking options while the downtown hybrid station would be focused more on passengers seeking day trips.

Alderman Joseph Kelly Levasseur (At-Large) voiced concerns that the station would attract Massachusetts residents into what is an already crowded Manchester housing market while keeping their jobs in the Bay State, and instead there should be a focus on northbound rail from the city. Nazaka and the panel indicated that the project had the opposite intent, seeking to remove congestion for current New Hampshire residents commuting to Massachusetts.

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig also noted that commuter rail would also serve as an economic driver for the city, stating conversations she has had with businesses that would consider moving to Manchester if commuter rail from Boston were in place.

She also noted that if Manchester did not pursue stations but Nashua did, that would put Manchester at a distinct competitive disadvantage.

Although no request for funding from the city was made on Tuesday night, confirmed information on the cost of the project was not yet available during the meeting.

While other additions to the platforms remain open to further design, the BMA’s vote on Tuesday signaled that the city seeks further work from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation on the concept.

More information from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation on the proposed stations can be found here.

Jodie Nazaka on Aug. 3, 2021. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

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andrewsylvia

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.