Rail facts

To the Editor: This is in response to Steven Connolly’s letter in the 6/10/19 edition of the Union Leader, in which he repeats the canards that passage of SB-241 will result in “…state subsidized commuter rail for New Hampshire…” and it is a “…legislative study proposal…”. This is a misrepresentation of the facts. SB-241 allocates up to $5m in the NHDOT’s Ten Year Plan 2019-2028 for the Project Development Phase of the Capitol Corridor Rail Project.

This is not another “Study” (the “Study” was the Capitol Corridor Final Report completed in 2014). Project Development is to determine hard dollar estimates for the engineering, environmental work, construction, and a financial plan for future construction and operation of Commuter Rail. This funding is NOT for construction and operation of that Commuter Rail. When Project Development is completed in 2-3 years, the public will have facts on which to base a decision.

Project Development funding is from the $30m of the Federal Transit Administration’s Part 5307 funding for the Boston Urbanized Area, which includes the Nashua and Manchester areas. This $30m is already in the Ten Year Plan and will not increase the overall Ten Year Plan budget.

I agree with Mr. Connolly about underutilization of the state-owned freight network. The legislature has failed to increase the weight carrying capacity of these rail lines to the industry standard 286,000 pound gross railcar weight and the industry standard 23’-0” vertical clearance under highway bridges, thus choking off modern rail freight from entering and leaving the state.