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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

NHBR: Rail Service in NH: "very" shovel-ready

Bob Sanders reports in New Hampshire Business Review that supporters of the proposed commuter rail line from Lowell to Manchester claim that work can be completed within a year:
“All the pieces of the puzzle are on the table,” said Mike Izbicki, interim executive director of New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority. “This is a very real project. This is the closest we’ve ever seen it — a real chance for rail to Manchester and maybe even to Concord.”

“This is very ready,” agreed New Hampshire Department of Transportation Commissioner George Campbell, who estimates that it would take two years for service to be put in place once the money is renewed.

But Dave Fink, president of Pan Am Systems, which owns the track and would presumably be doing most of the “shoveling” is even more optimistic. He thinks the necessary work can be done in a year. According to Fink, it would take a month to order the materials, and, in the current economy, there would be no problem calling back people, or hiring new ones, to do the work.
Rep. Candace Bouchard chairs the House Public Works and Highways Committee, and she adds a comment to the online version of the story:
It is not that I am not a fan of rail. For the stimulus goal of creating jobs, building rail would create jobs. However, I am not convinced that at this time the proposed rail in New Hampshire is the most cost effective alternative to move passenger vehicles off the highways. The decision to use buses on I-93 for a commuter service was the correct one. But I do believe the state has to plan for the future. The Rail Authority is a way to do the needed planning, develop an operating budget and source of revenue. I do have concerns the use of state CMAQ funds are being considered. A lot is said about the success of the Down Easter but it is important to remember that Maine heavily subsidizes that service. It is not that I would rather see the funds spent on east-west highway links, such as upgrading roads between Concord and Portsmouth. What I said was transit - buses. An east -west service would fill a lacking public transportation need.
Representative Candace Bouchard

1 comment:

  1. I find the idea that the gas tax isn't properly set so we should set rail ticket prices far below cost - confused at best.