City looking toward future of passenger rail

NASHUA – Polling done in 2017 shows that more than 70 percent of residents in New Hampshire support extending commuter rail service into the state, and the city has been working cooperatively with the state to bring passenger rail north of Massachusetts.

The city already passed R-17-123, establishing a Nashua Rail Transit Committee, which is charged with making recommendations and developing a strategy to present to the mayor and Board of Aldermen. On Tuesday, the board will hear the first reading of the Nashua Rail Transit Committee report and assign it to committee. That meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Aldermanic Chambers of City Hall.

It is recommended that the role of the committee be to:

Plan for immediate next steps for the Boston Surface Railroad Company partnership.

Identify city roles and responsibilities for passenger rail operations and station development.

Build public information and advocacy for passenger rail.

However, there are options for passenger rail for Nashua, including both the BSRC and the New Hampshire Capital Corridor. According to documents on the city website, the New Hampshire Capital Corridor is led by the state of New Hampshire in partnership with the Massachusetts DOT/MBTA to operate passenger rail from Concord to Boston with one or more stops in Nashua. Moreover, BSRC is a public-private partnership to operate passenger rail from Concord to Boston, with one stop in Bedford and one in Nashua.

According to the Nashua Rail Transit Committee report – executive summary that was submitted to Mayor Jim Donchess and the Board of Aldermen, passenger rail is imperative in three areas.

First, for economic development in creating land value, which equals increased taxes, Bridge Street and Crown Street development, meet talent demands of Nashua businesses and support area industry development and access to downtown.

Second, for mobility in terms of both improving the mobility of labor to and from Nashua but also improving the flow of tourists, arts patrons and retail shoppers to the city. In addition, it will increase travel options to and from downtown Nashua, office and industrial parks and the Manchester and Boston airports.

Third, for environmental and social issues in terms of mitigating adverse environmental impacts, supporting development patterns/lifestyle of next-gen and older residents and to promote transit-oriented development.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.