Manchester and Nashua mayors go to Concord to make case for commuter rail project

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Mayor Joyce Craig speaks during a Senate Transportation Committee hearing on Feb. 5, 2019. Courtesy Photo

CONCORD, NH – Mayor Joyce Craig on Tuesday joined Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess at a public hearing before the Senate Transportation Committee in support of SB 241, which would fund the project development of passenger rail in New Hampshire.

An amendment was added calling for the use of toll credits for any required matching funds.

If passed, the bill would allow the department of transportation to access federal funding for the purpose of completing the project development phase of the Capitol Corridor rail project in the 2019-2028 10-year transportation improvement plan. In her testimony, Craig reinforced Manchester’s growth in the business and education sectors, with more than 30 high-tech companies occupying the Millyard, and the expansion of BAE systems, which expects to bring 800 new jobs to the city.

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Mayor Joyce Craig, left, and Mayor Jim Donchess at the NH State House on Feb. 5, 2019. via Twitter

Of the trip to Concord to speak in favor of the rail project, Craig said, “It’s great to have a partner like Mayor Donchess in Nashua to collaborate on efforts that affect our two communities.”

Below is the text of Craig’s testimony before the Senate Transportation Committee. You can also listen to the testimony here, via SoundCloud. The Mayor’s testimony begins at about 10:15 minutes.

Good Afternoon Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. For the record, my name is Joyce Craig, and I’m the mayor of Manchester.

I’m here today in support of SB 241 and to urge the committee to take the next step in bringing to commuter rail to New Hampshire.

For years, both the Manchester business community and the Chamber of Commerce have forcefully advocated for the expansion of commuter rail to our downtown.

Expanded commuter rail will allow Manchester to experience new economic development opportunities, attract a youthful workforce, expand transit opportunities and increase accessibility to employment in the Greater Manchester area.

Manchester’s Millyard is a booming business and educational hub, and its continued vibrancy is critical to our city and state’s economic success. There are now over 30 high tech companies who call the Millyard home. ARMI, Southern New Hampshire University, Dyn-Oracle, Velcro Companies, PillPack-Amazon, DEKA, Autodesk and more are paving the way for Manchester to continue on a pathway of technological innovation.

And its not just Manchester’s Millyard that is attracting businesses. BAE has recently announced its expansion into Manchester, bringing up to 800 new high-paying jobs. If we want to attract more of these types of job-creating businesses and the workforce that they support, we must continue making our state an attractive place to do business.

We must seize these opportunities. Bringing commuter rail to Manchester is an essential step in supporting and strengthening our community.

Outside of the business impact, expanding commuter rail has the potential for positive economic impact as well. The 2014 Capitol Corridor report, found Manchester Regional Commuter rail would add 3,600 new residential units, over 1,800,000 square feet of new retail space, 230 new jobs during construction, 3390 new jobs related to real estate development. It would also add $750 million to New Hampshire’s output over the next 10 years.

The time is right is right for us take the next step to bring rail into New Hampshire.

I ask the committee to take the next, vital step in bringing commuter rail to NH and support SB 241.

Contact information for members of the Senate Transportation Committee is below:

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Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!