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Hassan presents bill to support passenger rail

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan introduced the Capital Investment Grant Program Improvement Act Wednesday to help spur federal investment in passenger rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester.

The bill would increase funding for the federal Capital Investment Grant program and prioritize projects connecting smaller cities to existing passenger rail in larger cities, making it easier for New Hampshire to secure the grant funding needed to move forward with passenger rail.

“Bringing passenger rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester would boost our economy, helping to support our businesses, keep and attract more young people to our state, and create new jobs – not to mention reduce traffic on I-93,” Hassan said. “I have long supported efforts to expand passenger rail in the Granite State, and this bill would make it easier for our state to secure the federal funds needed to make this project a reality.”

“I am thankful to Sen. Hassan for her efforts to fight for commuter rail in Nashua,” Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess said. “Nashua residents want an alternative way to travel in and out of Boston while still being able to enjoy the quality of life that our city offers. Passenger rail would make for an easier commute to work while helping Nashuans avoid heavy Boston traffic. Bringing commuter rail to Nashua creates the opportunity for new economic growth in our city.”

“For years, Manchester residents and businesses have advocated for the expansion of commuter rail,” Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig added. “This additional funding for the Capital Investment Grant would provide increased opportunity for expanded commuter rail in communities like ours, which will make New Hampshire a more desirable place for people to live and work. In Manchester, commuter rail will increase new economic development opportunities, attract a youthful workforce, expand transit opportunities, and increase accessibility to employment. I want to thank Sen. Hassan for her work on this important issue.”

Last year, New Hampshire passed legislation allowing the use of existing federal funding to complete the engineering, environmental and financial analyses necessary to advance the New Hampshire Capitol Corridor study, and that study also was authorized this year in New Hampshire’s 10-Year Transportation Improvement Plan. However, expanding passenger rail will require additional state and federal funding, officials have said.

Hassan’s bill expands those funding options for passenger rail by boosting the Capital Investment Grant program, which is administered by the Federal Transit Administration.

“It is vital that our state develop a passenger rail to help retain homegrown talent and attract high-skill workers from Boston, while contributing to new jobs and economic growth,” said E.J. Powers, New Hampshire Business for Rail Expansion spokesman. “The New Hampshire Business for Rail Expansion supports Sen. Hassan’s bill that would help make the development of a passenger rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester a reality.”

HASSAN’S CAPITAL INVESTMENT GRANT IMPROVEMENT ACT

• Raise the authorized level of funding for the Capital Investment Grant program from $2.3 billion to $3.3 billion per year, which could fund several more projects like the Capitol Corridor project each year.

• Make passenger rail projects in New Hampshire more competitive for Capital Investment Grant funding by instructing the Federal Transit Administration to prioritize projects that connect smaller cities like Manchester and Nashua with existing passenger rail networks like those in Boston.

• Require the Federal Transit Administration to undertake a study and report back to Congress on the technical and financial barriers to constructing passenger rail projects in small urban and rural areas, which will allow Congress to better tailor future transportation programs and funding to meet the needs of those areas.