O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
Should we make it illegal for New Hampshire to support passenger rail projects with state funding? The sponsors of House Bill 110 seem to think so.
Their bill would ban our state government from using any of its funds to help with the “planning, construction, operation, or management of passenger rail projects” in perpetuity, no matter how much sense the public infrastructure project might make. The authors of HB110 even include a surgical strike against the Merrimack Valley by specifically calling out “the project named Nashua-Manchester-Concord, project number 40818” as ineligible for future funding under their proposed legislation.
The passage of this misguided bill would effectively kill any chance of Manchester achieving regional passenger rail service. That would throw an enormous wrench in our community’s 2019 Regional Economic Development Plan, our 2020 Transit Oriented Development Plan, and also our award-winning 2021 Master Plan.
If you believe, as I do, that regional passenger rail service is right for Manchester, then please join me in emailing your thoughts to the NH House Committee on Public Works and Highways (HousePublicWorksandHighways@leg.state.nh.us) and respectfully ask them to designate HB110 as “ITL” which stands for inexpedient to legislate. The committee held an initial public hearing on Friday, February 3rd, and their inboxes remain open for public outreach. Your efforts could make the difference in how even one member votes on this bill.
I also encourage you to talk with your own State Representatives, State Senators, and city leaders about this topic as well. This Tuesday I chose to speak to our Board of Mayor & Aldermen (BMA) about it. I also plan to reach out to one of my local State Representatives — Ward 1 Rep Jeff Goley — who voted to ban state funding for passenger rail last year alongside Ward 4 Rep Chris Herbert, Ward 6 Reps Larry Gagne and Will Infantine, Ward 8 Rep Mark McLean, and floterial Rep Ross Berry.
With our city’s regional rail efforts at a critical juncture, I will work to stay involved. Can I count on you to do the same?
Below are the remarks I shared with the Manchester BMA on Tuesday, February 7. The BMA meets every first and third Tuesday of the month and hears public comment at 7 p.m.
Beg to differ? Agree to disagree? Your thoughtful commentary on topics of general interest are welcome. Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: The Soapbox.