The New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority (NHRTA) has launched a new informational website outlining the benefits of commuter rail as an alternative mode of transportation in New Hampshire.
The website, www.nhrta.org, features detailed information about current rail projects in the state, including the ongoing NH Capitol Corridor Study, an effort to evaluate the expansion of passenger rail service along the 73 mile stretch from Concord to Boston that is traveled by some 165,000 vehicles per day. The site also addresses the process needed to expand rail, features relevant news and information, lists prominent supporters and enables the public to sign up and show their support for passenger rail expansion.
Traffic congestion, increased transportation demand, concerns about mobility, economic development and the state’s famous quality of life led to the legislation that established the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority in 2007. The NHRTA is tasked with encouraging and overseeing the redevelopment of passenger rail services throughout New Hampshire with an initial emphasis on the NH Capitol Corridor.
“Support for rail expansion has been widespread throughout the state and is gaining momentum,” said Thomas Mahon, NHRTA Chairman. “Large and small businesses, community leaders and private individuals have reached out to express their desire to see rail become a reality. This website will serve as a tool to educate the public about the benefits associated with rail transportation and create an ongoing dialogue as we explore expanding rail from Boston to Concord.”
The NHRTA.org website features testimonials from respected business leaders like Dyn’s Gray Chynoweth, small business owners including Café la Reine’s Alex Puglisi, community leaders like Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce President J. Christopher Williams and Manchester Ward 6 Alderman Garth Corriveau, who all strongly believe that connecting passenger rail from Boston to Concord is vital to New Hampshire’s continued economic development. Testimonials can be viewed here.
Passenger rail has long been a hot topic of conversation in Concord and throughout the entire state, with public support intensifying in recent months.
In February 2014, a University of New Hampshire survey commissioned by the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce found that 68 percent of New Hampshire residents favor the extension of passenger rail service. The survey reported that over half of New Hampshire residents still support rail even when told it would cost the state $100 million in initial costs and as much as $15 million annually. Actual annual costs are projected to be much less according to Mahon.
“Simply put – passenger rail fosters development,” said David Preece, Executive Director & CEO of the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission and NHRTA board member. “Wherever rail stations are located, development soon follows. Along with creating construction jobs, passenger rail provides the opportunity to promote smart development to mitigate sprawl and to help accommodate residents seeking additional lifestyle choices.”
The New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) in cooperation with the NHRTA, is in the final stages of conducting a NH Capitol Corridor Study to evaluate passenger rail service and other transit alternatives like express bus service.
Initial NH Capitol Corridor Study estimates show that more than 3,100 riders are expected each weekday from Manchester-Boston for a yearly total of 800,000 riders –250,000 more than the successful Amtrak Downeaster, which provides five round-trips per day between Portland, ME and Boston, MA with New Hampshire stops in Exeter, Durham and Dover.
“The benefits of rail extend far beyond the projected 800,000 riders each year,” according to Mike Izbicki, rail engineering expert and NHRTA board member. “Passenger rail provides a significant alternative in the state’s capitol corridor—the stretch of roadway from Boston to Concord—which is the busiest corridor in the state. Rail expansion means fewer cars on the road, resulting in less pollution and less congestion.”
Izbicki continued, “New Hampshire has long been plagued by difficulties in retaining younger, highly-educated professionals, and rail expansion can help reverse that trend in a significant way. With rail in the mix, and thus easy access to New Hampshire, young professionals would view the Granite State as a viable place to live, work and build their careers. Furthermore, passenger rail could be an integral piece in enhancing access at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, enabling it to attract additional carriers and compete with other northeastern airports while also helping to support New Hampshire’s tourism economy.”
The final draft of the NH Capitol Corridor Study is scheduled to be completed in late fall 2014. This report will identify specific station locations, financing options and provide data related to the economic impact passenger rail expansion could have on New Hampshire.
Visit www.NHRTA.org to learn more about the NH Capitol Corridor Study, the NHRTA and to sign up to show your support for the expansion of passenger rail from Boston to Concord.
About the NH Rail Transit Authority
The NH Rail Transit Authority (NHRTA) was established in 2007 and is tasked with encouraging and overseeing the redevelopment of passenger rail services throughout New Hampshire with an initial emphasis on the NH Capitol Corridor. The NHRTA is administratively attached to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and has broad based membership from 11 cities and towns, 7 regional planning commissions, two state senators and two state representatives, the NHDOT, the Manchester-Boston Regional airport, and four appointees by the governor. Learn more at www.nhrta.org.