NH passenger rail expansion analysis bill becomes law

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Amtrak’s Downeaster leaves the Dover station. Photo/Carol Robidoux

CONCORD, NH – Senate Bill 241 became law Friday, allowing the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to access existing federal funding to complete the critical Project Development Analysis of the NH Capitol Corridor Rail Expansion Project. This phase will provide a detailed analysis of engineering, environmental, and geotechnical aspects, along with a firm financial plan for expanding passenger rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester. Senate Bill 241 passed both the NH House and Senate and officially became law without signature.

“Today marks a significant milestone in the effort to expand passenger rail and strengthen New Hampshire’s economy,” said E.J. Powers, NH Business for Rail Expansion spokesman. “Our elected officials have listened to the growing choir of a majority of New Hampshire residents from all political parties and demographics and businesses who want the state to explore the investment and benefits associated with passenger rail expansion.”

Senate Bill 241’s passage follows affirmative votes by the NH House and Senate and a recent survey conducted by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center that indicated 75.5 percent of residents are in support of rail.

Senate Bill 241 utilizes a miniscule portion of the state’s abundance of toll credits to leverage federal dollars designated to fund the analysis. No money would be used from the state’s General Fund. Once complete, the analysis will provide policymakers with the necessary information to make an informed decision as to whether to proceed with the project and in no way commits the state to moving forward.

Powers continued, “We are grateful to the hundreds of businesses, residents, organizations and elected officials that championed this cause over many years. We are especially appreciative of the Greater Manchester and Nashua Chambers of Commerce, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess and Senate Bill 241 sponsors for their unwavering support.”

Released in 2015, the NH Capitol Corridor Study detailed the benefits of rail expansion, which include 668,000 weekday riders and the following economic benefits:

  • 5,600 permanent jobs
  • 3,400 construction jobs to build the real estate development triggered by rail
  • 1,700 new jobs every year beginning in 2030
  • 3,600 residential units to support new workers
  • 1.9 million square feet of commercial real estate as a by-product of rail expansion
  • $750 million in real estate investment from 2021-2030
  • $220 million in reinvested worker earnings added to the economy beyond 2020

The Project Development analysis would examine multiple aspects of the proposed Capitol Corridor Rail Expansion Project, which would extend passenger rail from Boston, Mass. to Manchester, NH with two stops in Nashua, a stop at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and a stop in downtown Manchester.

For more information, please visit www.NHBiz4Rail.com.