CONCORD — A new poll indicates a large percentage of Granite State residents favor passenger train service between Boston and southern New Hampshire.
The Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll found 75.5% of residents surveyed said they are in support of expanding passenger rail service to Boston from Manchester and Nashua, according to a release Monday from New Hampshire Businesses for Rail Expansion, a statewide, nonpartisan business coalition that launched in January 2018.
“With more than 110 statewide businesses and now three-quarters of residents indicating their support, it is time for policymakers to act and take the next step in expanding rail and realizing the vast economic benefits it would deliver,” E.J. Powers, a spokesman for the group, said in the release.
The release of the study came two days before a legislative committee is scheduled to discuss a funding bill approved by the New Hampshire Senate in February.
SB 241 would authorize the Transportation Department to accept federal funding for the project development phase of the Capitol Corridor rail project, connecting Concord, Manchester and Nashua to the MBTA commuter rail system. The phase would include a detailed analysis of engineering, environmental and geotechnical aspects, along with a financial plan, Powers said.
“The message could not be any clearer — residents and businesses alike overwhelmingly support rail expansion,” Powers said. “It is time to approve the project development phase of the NH Capitol Corridor study.”
While the study and others before it have found many Granite Staters favor the idea of commuter rail service to Boston, paying for it could be a major sticking point.
The House Public Works and Highways Committee is scheduled to hear public testimony Wednesday morning during a meeting at the Legislative Office Building.
Greg Moore, state director of fiscally-conservative Americans for Prosperity, said the issue may merit further discussion, but he ultimately expects state lawmakers to focus elsewhere while addressing the state’s many infrastructure needs.
“I get the fact that there are some people locally who are very supportive of it because it might benefit their community,” Moore said Monday. “But when you’re having a conversation about an infrastructure project this big you have to look at the totality of how it would benefit everyone across New Hampshire. That is the job of the Legislature.”