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Executive Councilors To Hold Public Hearings On Proposed 10 Year Transportation Plan

This is your chance to tell the Executive Council loud and clear that New Hampshire must expand passenger rail service.

The condition of our roads and bridges has been a red hot topic over the past few years.  Overall New Hampshire has hundreds of “red” listed bridges which means they are in dire need of repairs. Tens of thousands of miles of roads that new to be repaved.

What roads should the state prioritize in their 1o year infrastructure plan?

What about new projects like expanding the Everett Turnpike or widening Route 3 through Concord?What new projects should the prioritize in their next 10 year plan?

And the million dollar question: Will the State finally get on board with expanding commuter rail service to New Hampshire?  If so, how far should the rail line go? Nashua? Manchester? Concord?

Past reports showed that expanded rail service would create over 5,000 new permanent jobs boosting our local economy.

Over the next two months Executive Councilors will be holding in-district meetings to hear directly from the people on what they State should prioritize in their 10 year transportation plan.  This is your chance to tell your elected representative that you support expanded rail.

They are asking to hear from you and now is your chance to tell them exactly how you feel.  Below is a printable PDF of all the scheduled public hearings and the Executive Councilor for that district.

Be sure to share this message and invite all your friends and family to attend.  It is time we make our voices loud and clear. We want RAIL!

( For more information on the benefits of expanding rail, click here)

GACIT Public Notice and Schedule

Dan Weeks Convenes Local Leaders to Press for Commuter Rail

Executive Council Candidate brings together policy experts and legislative leaders to promote NH Capitol Corridor Rail Project in 2017 

Nashua, NH —Democrat Dan Weeks today will lead a discussion with local political leaders and policy experts at Nashua City Hall at 12pm to outline next steps for bringing commuter rail to southern New Hampshire starting in 2017. The Weeks campaign also released a video highlighting the candidate’s support for commuter rail.

“After years of study, the evidence is in that commuter rail is New Hampshire’s biggest economic development opportunity in a generation. For a modest up-front investment, we can unleash hundreds of millions of dollars in outside investment for the good of our entire state and create thousands of middle-class jobs to grow our economy and keep our young people from leaving,” Weeks said. 

Weeks, the Democratic candidate for Executive Council in District 5, will lead a discussion with Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess, State Sen. Bette Lasky, former State Sen. Peggy Gilmour, rail engineering expert Michael Izbicki and developer Dan Kelly of the NH Rail Transit Authority, as well as nearly 20 state legislators and legislative candidates, at the Nashua City Hall Auditorium today from 12-2pm. 

“It is time for the state legislature and Executive Council to look to the future by beginning the financial planning, preliminary engineering, and environmental permitting that will allow New Hampshire to leverage federal funds and invest in commuter rail,” said Weeks. 

Weeks called on the New Hampshire state legislature and Executive Council to reinsert over $3 million in available federal funding for the Capitol Corridor rail project back into the state’s Transportation Improvement Plan, and develop public private partnerships to assist with financing the proposed extension of the Lowell line to Nashua, Manchester Airport, and downtown Manchester. The funding was removed by Republican leaders in 2016, against the recommendation of the NH Department of Transportation and contrary to public demand.

“My great-grandfather Sinclair Weeks helped build the Interstate Highway System half a century ago,” Weeks said. “He was a conservative businessman and Eisenhower’s Secretary of Commerce, yet he recognized that public investments in infrastructure and education breed private-sector growth. We need to bring together private enterprise and public investment once again, to strengthen our New Hampshire economy through commuter rail.”

“Studies show that while the Capital Corridor rail project would cost between $5 to $10 million per year, it would serve nearly 700,000 passengers per year, bring $174 million in federal tax dollars back to New Hampshire, create 5,600 permanent jobs, spur approximately $750 million worth of new real estate development and add nearly 2 million square feet in new commercial space by 2030,” said Weeks. “That’s why 74 percent of Granite Staters support commuter rail. That’s why our Chambers of Commerce and businesses large and small support commuter rail—to help spur economic growth and keep talented young workers in New Hampshire.” 

“The single biggest economic development opportunity in a generation is staring us in the face,” Weeks said in a video released by his campaign. “If I’m your Executive Councilor, I will take the right votes to move our state forward on commuter rail.”

Dan Weeks and his plan to fight for commuter rail was endorsed by Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess and Hon. Peggy Gilmour, candidate for State Senate District 12.

  • Mayor Jim Donchess: “We need strong allies at the highest levels of state government to succeed – people with sound judgment and a stake in Nashua’s success. That’s why I’m proud to stand with my friend and fellow Nashuan, Dan Weeks, in his campaign for Executive Council against Dave Wheeler. Dan has already fought hard to support the Capitol Rail Corridor by lobbying the state legislature, educating the public, and recruiting fellow citizens to do the same.”
  • Hon. Peggy Gilmour: “Dan Weeks has the vision, integrity, and tenacity that New Hampshire needs on the Executive Council. Dan is entering public service for the right reasons. He cares about people and making our democratic system work for everyone. He listens, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat. I trust him to put the public’s interest above political party or special interests. Dan supports common sense solutions to bring new jobs to New Hampshire: investing in commuter rail and renewable energy.”

Daniel Weeks: Time To Put New Hampshire Back On (The) Track

Dan Weeks 3

Daniel Weeks

Sixty years ago, America embarked upon the “greatest public works project in the history of the world.”  The Interstate Highway System did not simply move people from A to B. It knitted our population centers together, facilitated untold commerce and economic development, and generated hundreds of thousands of jobs.

My great-grandfather Sinclair Weeks, a conservative businessman from New Hampshire, was charged with implementing the Interstate Highway System as Secretary of Commerce under President Eisenhower. Although few men of his generation were more committed to the principles of American free enterprise than he, Secretary Weeks, a lifelong Republican, recognized that private enterprise and public investment went hand-in-hand. No private business would ever undertake a project of such magnitude, in which the costs were concentrated and benefits diffuse, for it could never mobilize the necessary resources or justify the arrangement to shareholders. That was the job of government acting as a democratic embodiment of the public will.

The lesson is simple: It is the business of American business to responsibly and ethically advance the bottom line. It is the business of democratic governments to make the smart investments in infrastructure, education, public health, and more that lay the very foundation for economic growth – not just sixty years ago but today. When public and private sectors do their job, people thrive.

That is sadly not the case with the New Hampshire legislature and Executive Council today. Following the House’s lead, the NH Senate is poised to block the biggest investment in infrastructure development and economic growth for the state in a generation: commuter rail. In spite of near-unanimous private-sector support and the approval of 74% of Granite Staters, Republicans in the legislature and Executive Council appear determined to reject $4 million in federal funds to enter the development phase of the Capitol Rail Corridor, as recommended by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Governor in the Ten Year Transportation Improvement Plan. No state taxpayer funds are in question at this stage.

Consider the costs and benefits of the rail proposal for our state. According to the Capitol Rail Corridor Study, a detailed analysis conducted over two years by the NH Rail Transit Authority under DOT, extending the Lowell-Boston rail line to Nashua, Manchester airport, and downtown Manchester would cost the state between $5-$10 million per year or approximately one-tenth of one percent of the state budget. In return for that investment, New Hampshire would leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds and spur the development of 3,620 rail and real estate construction jobs, 5,600 permanent jobs, 3,600 new residential units, and nearly 2 million square feet and $750 million worth of new commercial development by 2030.

The mandate from New Hampshire businesses could not be more clear. Facing a rapidly-aging population and increasing out-migration of our youth, the state’s leading Chambers of Commerce and businesses large and small have called for commuter rail to help fill vacant jobs and spur economic growth. Their voices, and those of the vast majority of residents across the state who support the project, should not be disregarded by the legislature and Executive Council.

The Capitol Corridor rail proposal is also about preserving New Hampshire’s vaunted quality of life. For the tens of thousands of Granite Staters who make the daily commute for work into Massachusetts, and thousands more Massachusetts residents who commute into southern New Hampshire, rail would provide a convenient, cost-effective, and environmentally-sustainable alternative to the region’s congested highways. And with half the state’s population residing in the Greater Manchester-Nashua region, rail would serve an estimated 700,000 weekday commuters per year.

A project of such magnitude requires careful thought and planning to ensure that precious public resources are well spent. That is why the state legislature is not being asked to commit to rail as yet. Rather, the proposal now before the Senate in the Ten Year Transportation Plan and HB 2016 is for project development alone, including financial planning, preliminary engineering, and environmental permitting required to leverage federal funds.

For the sake of our state’s economic and environmental health, our evolving work force, and our quality of life, I urge Republicans in Concord to return to their party’s proud tradition of infrastructure investment and accept the $4 million in non-state funding for the Capitol Corridor. Together, we can put New Hampshire back on (the) track.
Daniel Weeks, a 12th generation Granite Stater, is the former Executive Director of Open Democracy and a candidate for Executive Council in District 5.

 

NH Senate Republicans Are Once Again Blocking Rail Funding

(Image by Loco Steve FLIKR CC)

(Image by Loco Steve FLIKR CC)

Concord, NH – Sen. Bette Lasky (D-Nashua) and Ray Buckley the NH Democratic Party Chair offered the following comments after Senate Republicans blocked the restoration of funding for commuter rail in the 2016-17 Capital Budget:

“The business community and our citizens have been calling on us for years to take action on commuter rail and I’m disappointed that Senate Republicans have again blocked this funding,” said Sen. Lasky. “Commuter rail is not a partisan or ideological issue – it is something that is supported by both Republicans and Democrats; business leaders, and working families. The people of New Hampshire continue to be frustrated by the lack of effort by the Republicans in the legislature to find a consensus way forward on commuter rail when the economic benefits have been shown to be undeniable.”

Governor Hassan had originally included funding for a $4 million environmental and engineering assessment in her proposed budget that would have advanced the Capital Corridor Rail project forward, but it was removed during the House phase of the budget. Senate Democrats attempted to add the funding back in the Senate Capital Budget Committee phase, but was defeated along a party-line vote. Today, Sen. Lasky offered a floor amendment to the Capital Budget on the Senate floor to restore the $4 million, but it was again defeated along party lines.

“We talk a lot in the Senate about what our workers and businesses need to thrive and grow here in New Hampshire. And while our businesses have many needs, commuter rail addresses 2 of their most basic problems: a modern, safe, transportation infrastructure and the retention and getting of a highly educated workforce,” continued Sen. Lasky. “Today, Senate Democrats stood with the businesses and more than 68% of New Hampshire citizens who support investing in commuter rail as an economic engine. Unfortunately, our Republican colleagues continue their short-sighted opposition and once again decided to stand in the way of bringing this economic boost to New Hampshire.”

“The business community, including the Manchester and Nashua Chambers of Commerce, is calling on the legislature to act now on commuter rail in order to seize on our state’s economic potential and lay the foundation for a new generation of economic growth,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “Kevin Avard and David Boutin will find out in November 2016 that the people and businesses of Nashua and Manchester aren’t going to forget this vote against the economic interests of their communities.”

High Praise From NH’s Elected Leaders After Capitol Corridor Study Is Released

Today the New Hampshire Department of Transportation released their final report on extending rail service through Southern New Hampshire. The report laid out several different options to extend rail service all the way to Concord. The DOT stated that extending the rail to Manchester would be the most economical to gain the largest impact.

After the report was released elected leaders were quick to praise the study.

“A solid, modern transportation infrastructure is critical to the success of our people and businesses, and bringing commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester is another important step in strengthening our transportation infrastructure,” stated Governor Hassan. “Improving access to the entire region and providing types of new transportation and housing opportunities that 21st century workers and families desire, rail will help keep more of our young people right here in the Granite State and spark economic growth for decades to come.”

“Our business community understands the many benefits of commuter rail, and we must find a way to remain responsive to their needs by finding a consensus way forward that will build on our many advantages and help set the stage for a new generation of economic growth. I look forward to working with legislators from both parties, with local communities and with our businesses in order to continue to improve our transportation infrastructure and to bring commuter rail to New Hampshire,” concluded Hassan.

Congresswoman Kuster has been a strong advocate for federal funding for projects to repair and expand New Hampshire’s transportation infrastructure. She is a cosponsor of the Partnership to Build America Act, bipartisan legislation to leverage private investments to fund an Infrastructure Bank for financing public works projects like the Capitol Corridor project. This past summer, Kuster also convened a group of business owners and leaders for a roundtable discussion in Nashua focused on the economic benefits of passenger rail.

“Improving our state’s infrastructure is crucial to the success of our local economy, and expanding rail in New Hampshire could help bring thousands of new jobs and increased revenue to our state,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “I look forward to learning more about the various options for rail in New Hampshire outlined in this report, and I remain committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to provide support and federal funding for the expansion of passenger rail and other transportation options across our communities. We must continue to pursue smart, fiscally sound improvements to our public infrastructure in order to support our local businesses and help our economy grow.”

“Today’s final report on the Capitol Corridor Study confirms what the citizens and businesses of New Hampshire have known for years: bringing commuter rail to NH will help maximize our regional position and spark economic growth for decades to come,” said Sen. Bette Lasky (D-Nashua). “Commuter rail will benefit Nashua and the entire state by bringing new transportation and housing opportunities—the kinds of opportunities that our businesses and families are looking for.”

“Senate Democrats want to expand opportunity for all, and commuter rail is a significant potential driver of economic opportunity,” added Senate Transportation Committee member Sen. Dan Feltes (D-Concord). “With the release of the final report, we as legislators have a choice: invest in commuter rail as an economic engine and keep more of our young people here in New Hampshire or stick with the status quo. Senate Democrats stand ready to work with stakeholders in the bussing industry, the business community, state transportation experts as well as our colleagues in the House and Senate to ensure we find a consensus, comprehensive way forward.”

“Today’s report clearly shows that the Manchester commuter rail option offers the best long-term return on investment, with a big impact on commercial and residential development in the Manchester and Nashua areas,” said Executive Councilor Chris Pappas. “Rail will reduce congestion and create thousands of jobs over time, contributing to our entire state’s quality of life and tax base. It is time to make this proposal a reality, and I look forward to working with elected officials, businesses, and constituents to support a fiscally responsible way to finance this critical economic development project.”

Extending rail service to Southern New Hampshire would reduce traffic congestion while strengthening our public transportation system and give an economic boost to the local economy. The question now is will the State pony up the money needed to extend the rail or not?

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