MANCHESTER, NH – A new, statewide, nonpartisan business coalition launched Tuesday that is committed to expanding passenger rail from Boston to Manchester, NH.
New Hampshire Business for Rail Expansion released an initial list of more than 50 businesses, organizations and individuals in support of passenger rail expansion, along with a website, www.NHBiz4Rail.com, and social media presence ahead of a crucial House Public Works and Highways Committee vote on Wednesday that could determine the fate of rail expansion along the state’s capitol corridor.
House Bill 2018 is the amended Ten Year Transportation Improvement Plan, which includes $4 million in funding for the Project Development phase of the proposed rail expansion project. This step will provide a detailed analysis of engineering, environmental, and geotechnical aspects, along with a firm financial plan for expanding passenger rail from Boston to Manchester. A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, January 31, in Room 201 of the Legislative Office Building at 33. N. State Street in Concord, NH.
“New Hampshire’s economy is strong, but a well-documented lack of in-migration and aging population is hurting businesses that need to fill jobs, which is detrimental to the state’s future,” said New Hampshire Business for Rail Expansion spokesman E.J. Powers. “For companies to grow and prosper right here in New Hampshire, they need access to a younger, highly-educated workforce. That means the state needs to be able retain its homegrown talent, while at the same time draw on Boston’s vast talent pool. An expanded rail system can play a key role in this effort.”
Over the past several months, the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Intermodal Transportation (GACIT), which is made up of New Hampshire’s Executive Councilors and New Hampshire Department of Transportation representatives, solicited feedback from across the state for transportation projects. That feedback included strong support for undertaking the Project Development phase for the proposed rail expansion project from Boston to Manchester along the state’s capitol corridor.
GACIT included the $4 million cost for the Project Development phase in the Ten Year Plan, which was sent to Governor Sununu, who approved the cost and has sent it to the legislature for approval. Governor Sununu recently expressed his support for the extension of passenger rail to strengthen the state’s Amazon HQ2 application. The Governor stated in a recent Union Leader interview that now is the time to further study rail connections.
Powers continued, “This analysis, which would be funded by a federal grant and would have zero cost to New Hampshire taxpayers, would provide the public and policymakers with all the information they need to make an informed decision as to whether the state should fund rail expansion in the future. Once we have all the facts on the table, then it’s up to the citizens of New Hampshire to determine if the benefits are worth the investment.”
Initial supporters of the rail expansion effort are highlighted on www.NHBiz4Rail.com, and include the following cross-section of businesses, organizations and individuals:
- 36 Creative
- Anagnost Companies
- Battle Games
- Brady Sullivan Properties
- Brick River Technologies
- Café La Reine
- Campo Enoteca
- Catholic Medical Center
- Citizens Bank
- Cookson Strategies
- Coco Early & Associates
- Currier Museum of Art
- Dancing Lion Chocolate
- Derryfield School
- Eckman Construction
- Elm Grove Companies
- Gottesman & Hollis
- Great Island Inn
- Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
- Intown Manchester
- Keller Williams – Agent Paul Laflamme
- Kelley Stelling Contemporary
- Lambert and Associates – Senator Gary Lambert
- Manchester-Boston Regional Airport
- Marzen Group
- Mayor Joyce Craig, City of Manchester
- McMahon & Wright Group – Wells Fargo Advisors
- MERC Sales
- Mint Bistro
- Montagne Communications
- New Hampshire High Tech Council
- New Hampshire Institute of Art
- Northwestern Mutual
- Oracle + DYN
- Paul Bergeron and Associates
- Persian Rug Gallery
- Primary Strategies
- Pro Drone, LLC
- Raceway Electric
- Randy Turmel and Associates
- Reach Communications
- Republic Café
- Saint Anselm College
- Solomon Consulting
- Soujourn Partners
- Southern New Hampshire University
- St. Mary’s Bank
- The Bookery
- The Cerato Group
- Unique and Chic Designs
- University of New Hampshire
- Ward Properties
According to Powers, a second wave of business supporters will be released in the coming weeks. Those interested in expressing their support for rail expansion are encouraged to sign a petition at www.NHBiz4Rail.com.
Michael Skelton, president and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce added, “The GMCC represents more than 850 businesses across Southern New Hampshire that employ tens of thousands of our state’s residents and generate millions in economic activity. The Nashua-Manchester corridor also serves as the economic backbone of our entire state; as goes the economic output of our region, so goes the rest of New Hampshire. Therefore, economic growth along the Nashua-Manchester corridor is important to the overall growth of our entire state’s economy.”
Skelton continued, “In order to have a sound public policy debate on this issue in the future, we must have all the facts. Completing the Project Development phase will allow for policymakers to have an informed debate on this issue and truly assess whether the benefits outweigh the costs.”
The NH Capitol Corridor Study, which was released in 2015, detailed the many benefits of rail expansion. With four stops, two in Nashua and two in Manchester, passenger rail service would draw a minimum of 668,000 riders each year, leading to the creation of 5,600 permanent jobs supporting 3,600 new residential units along the corridor. Construction of the rail line would generate about 230 jobs, and an additional 3,400 construction jobs would be created to build the real estate development generated by rail. Beginning in 2030, 1,700 new jobs would be created every year due to the expansion of passenger rail.
Approximately 3,600 residential units would be created to support new workers and 1.9 million square feet of commercial real estate would be a by-product of rail expansion. The study estimated real estate development would add $750 million to the state’s output from 2021-2030 and reinvested worker earnings would add $220 million to the economy beyond 2020.
A 2015 Public Policy Poll indicated 74% of New Hampshire residents support passenger rail expansion.
To learn more about the effort to support rail and the NH Business for Rail Expansion, visit www.NHBiz4Rail.com.
♥⇒Interested in the NH rail initiative? Here’s a Facebook group you might like to join: Citizens for NH Capital Corridor Passenger Rail