August 25. 2018 11:04PM

Nashua, BAE eye transit alliance to bring new bus terminal to downtown

Union Leader Correspondent

BAE Systems contributes about $1 billion annually to the state's economy. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

NASHUA - A proposed partnership between the city and BAE Systems could bring a new bus terminal to the downtown area.

"BAE is facing some significant parking limitations," said Camille Pattison, Nashua's transportation manager.

Pattison introduced a proposal to aldermen last week that would allow BAE Systems to purchase and install a bus shelter for the Nashua Transit System next to BAE's Canal Street facility at the corner of Canal Street and Nashua Drive.

The new bus terminal, if approved, would provide BAE employees with easier access to parking at the new Crown Street park-and-ride lot, as well as the public parking garages on Elm and High streets, Pattison explained to the aldermanic Committee on Infrastructure.

The bus shelter is being proposed in conjunction with a new downtown connector bus route designed to help not only BAE Systems with its parking shortage, but other downtown businesses as well, including Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, she said.

"It will be open to the public," Pattison said.

Alderman Tom Lopez said the extra bus terminal would also benefit residents who live in the Crown Hill and French Hill neighborhoods.

"I think this would be very popular," he told his colleagues.

Tim Cummings, economic development director for the city, said BAE Systems is one of the city's largest employers, with about 2,500 workers at the Canal Street location.

With BAE having concerns and constraints with its parking, a private-public partnership with the company makes sense, according to Cummings.

BAE is willing to spend $40,000 to purchase and install the new bus terminal, as well as $260,000 a year to have the Nashua Transit System include it in its downtown loop.

Additionally, aldermen are considering a related proposal that would allow the city to lease parking spaces at the Crown Street park-and-ride to BAE employees.

"We thought it was a good way of helping to be a good neighbor," Cummings said.

If the proposal is approved, the park-and-ride spaces could be leased for $50 a month, allowing workers to use the reserved spots from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

The city purchased the property at 25 Crown St. about five years ago with the intention of converting it into a park-and-ride and potentially, in the future, an intermodal transportation center with passenger rail. The lot is expected to accommodate 250 vehicles.

The aldermanic committee is supporting the partnership with BAE Systems, which must still be considered by the full board.