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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

2016 Fiscal Revues Reveals $160 Million Surplus But What Will Happen Next Is Crucial

Today, the Department of Administrative Services released the 2016 NH Fiscal Report that show a whopping $160 million dollar surplus.

“Thanks to a strengthening economy, our work across party lines to develop a fiscally responsible budget and Senator Hassan’s strong leadership as Governor, we finished Fiscal Year 2016 with a surplus of almost $160 million. With this strong surplus, we were able to put an additional $70 million into our Rainy Day Fund- strengthening it to the highest level in recorded history. As our state’s fiscal outlook continues to strengthen, Senate Democrats remain committed to supporting the economic priorities that are critical to the success of our people, our businesses, and our state,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn.

“The strong surplus of nearly $160 million and historic level of the State’s Rainy Day Fund is yet another clear sign of Senator Hassan’s strong leadership and success as Governor. Regardless of what the Republican Party tries to say about the state’s fiscal health, Granite Staters know that Senator Hassan’s leadership led to real results for the State of New Hampshire. To build on that progress, Republicans in Concord should ditch failed policies like ‘right-to-work for less’ and join their Democratic colleagues on focusing on the real issues that matter to the people of New Hampshire and will keep our economy moving forward,” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. 

For the people of New Hampshire this is good news.  It shows that programs like the NH Health Protection Program did not bankrupt the state as some claimed.  We have also filled up our rainy day fund.This will make this years budget fight even more interesting.

Will the legislature cut revenue sources or will they opt to invest in our future?

For example, today, Senator Bette Laskey (D-Nashua) introduced a new bill (SB 100) to appropriate $4 million to the Department of Transportation for the project development phase of the New Hampshire capital rail corridor project.

“The citizens and businesses of New Hampshire know that bringing commuter rail to this state will generate economic growth for decades to come and make New Hampshire a more accessible and attractive destination for families and investors,” said Senator Lasky, prime sponsor of SB 100. “With the support of businesses, workers and families, this project should be a priority investment of this legislature.”

“Commuter rail offers a modern, safe, transportation infrastructure that not only bridges the gap between employers and their need for an educated workforce, but also helps attract and keep young people in our state to drive future growth. This is not a partisan or ideological issue – it is a win-win that is supported by both Republicans and Democrats; business leaders, and working families. Given the significant economic benefits of bringing commuter rail to New Hampshire, I urge my colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee to support this legislation,” Laskey added.  

With a $90 million dollar surplus, after taking money out for the rainy day fund, can we finally agree that the funds are there to push for expanded rail service to New Hampshire.

What about our broken down roads and bridges?  Will the legislature finally put some serious money to repair the hundred red listed bridges in the state?

What about our schools? Will the legislature put some much needed funds to update any of the state public schools?  Will they put more money towards the state’s university system and the community college system of NH?  The State of NH is dead last in state spending on our state universities which is also why we have the highest in-state tuition in the country.

Hopefully they will choose to make some serious investments in our state’s infrastructure and spend more on education funding.

New Hampshire Senate Republicans Blocking Rail Funding Once Again

(Image by Loco Steve FLIKR CC)

(Image by Loco Steve FLIKR CC)

Concord, NH – Today, Senate Republicans blocked the restoration of the $4 million funding for environmental and engineering assessment work, the next phase in bringing commuter rail to New Hampshire. After the vote, Sen. Bette Lasky (D-Nashua) offered the following comments:

“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 two of their most basic problems: a modern, safe, transportation infrastructure and the retention of a highly educated workforce,” said Sen. Lasky. “I’m disappointed that Senate Republicans have once again blocked this funding. In addition, 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.”

“The fact that this next phase would not cost the state a penny makes the opposition to this proposal even more unbelievable. We have more than enough toll credits to complete this work, without sacrificing other projects, and the funding proposed for this project cannot be used for any other project within the 10-Year Transportation Improvement Plan. There is no logical reason to oppose this funding except for those who are ideologically opposed to bringing commuter rail and the economic boost it will provide to New Hampshire.”

Federal transit funds would make up 80% of the $4 million needed for the project, with the state’s 20% share being covered by excess toll credits.

“I, along with my Senate Democratic colleagues and the more than 74% of New Hampshire citizens, continue to be frustrated by the refusal of our Republican colleagues to act on commuter rail. But even though the Senate has once again blocked this common sense solution to move this project forward, we will continue fighting to make commuter rail a reality in the Granite State,” Laskey concluded.

“I am disappointed that the amendment to leverage federal funds for the environmental and engineering work necessary to bring commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester was eliminated. Commuter rail would help improve access to the entire region, provide new housing and transportation opportunities, spur economic development and create jobs. The business community continues to call on us to take action on this and we must keep working together with members from both parties, local communities, the federal government, our businesses and the State of Massachusetts to come to an agreement to make this vital project a reality,” said Governor Maggie Hassan.  

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.

 

Pappas, Van Ostern Outline Plan to Make Passenger Rail to Nashua & Manchester a Reality

Draft financing outline limits costs to less than $5 million/year from state funds

CONCORD, NH – Today Executive Councilors Colin Van Ostern and Chris Pappas outlined a path forward for bringing passenger rail from Boston to Nashua & Manchester, along with a draft financing option that would make commuter rail a reality for less than $5 million/year state funds.

 The two discussed the outline on a conference call with Congresswoman Ann Kuster, who convened a New England Regional Passenger Rail Summit in Nashua last month, as well as business leaders and lawmakers from Manchester & Nashua.

 “Today we’re laying out a proposal for how we can make passenger rail a reality from Boston to Nashua and Manchester because it will boost our state economy, strengthen our workforce and unlock job growth,” said Van Ostern. 

 “It’s time to create a multimodal transportation future for our state that includes rail.  A stronger economy is good for all New Hampshire citizens, and even those who will never set foot on a train will enjoy having less traffic on I-93 and Rt 3 every day,” said Pappas

 “Passenger rail holds tremendous potential for the New Hampshire economy, and I am committed to partnering with Chris Pappas, Colin Van Ostern, and other state leaders to ensure that any passenger rail plan brings our New Hampshire tax dollars back from Washington, DC and puts them to use in our state,” said Congresswoman Ann Kuster.

 The rail proposal builds on the December 2014 Capitol Corridor Rail & Transit Study by focusing on the potential route which would reach maximum job growth per dollar of invested capital, and it adds a draft financing plan to make the route construction and operation a reality.

“A few years ago, New Hampshire expanded our Research & Development tax credit to $2 million/year, and our businesses and employers have benefited from that investment.  Smart, responsible investments in business growth like the R&D tax credit and passenger rail can accelerate our economic growth and create thousands of good paying jobs in our state,” said Van Ostern. 

 

According to the plan built on the findings of the December 2014 Capitol Corridor Rail & Transit Study, New Hampshire would build regional commuter rail with:

             ·       Two stops in Nashua, one at the Manchester airport, and one in Manchester’s downtown millyard area which houses numerous growing technology companies

·       Less than 1 hour travel from Nashua to Boston; 1:20 from Boston to MHT airport and 1:30 from Boston to downtown Manchester

·       16 trains daily to Manchester and 34 daily to Nashua

·       Projected weekday ridership of 3,120 riders

·       Projected 1.9mm square feet of commercial real estate development around stations

·       Projected 5,600 permanent jobs from economic development boost

·       Expanded opportunity to for freight rail (and additional economic growth) due to improved rail service

·       Allow for concurrent intercity passenger rail service to Concord via Amtrak once commuter rail to Nashua & Manchester is restored

 According to the draft financing plan outlined here, financing would:  

·       Allow private development of the four multimodal rail stations; smaller but consistent with the look, feel, and commercial opportunities of the recently rebuild Hooksett I-93

       Welcome Centers, which were constructed with no state funds

·       Partner with the MBTA & other partners to help cover costs of layover yards, trackage rights, and trains

·       Maximize contributions for the project from existing federal grants, funding roughly 50% of remaining capital costs

·       Allow the direct economic development benefits of rail to be used to pay a portion of the project costs – through either a new Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district or allow direct municipal contributions from Nashua or Manchester, as an alternative up to local officials. Under a TIF, while no new taxes will be passed or assessed, any increase in total taxes collected due directly to rising property values or business growth within ½ mile of the rail tracks and stations would be used to fund the project; with a cap of several million/year. Details will require input by both municipal and legislative leaders.

·       Authorize parking at rail stations, free in the first year of the project and then charging $6/day and netting ~$1mm/year in revenue

·       Include a 35% contingency buffer, leaving ample room for potential unanticipated costs

Additionally, an active legislative study committee chaired by Senator Bette Lasky will report results by early January, 2016, and provide additional opportunities for supplementing financing as outlined above.

 “We can make passenger rail a reality by the end of 2020 if we start right away, and we can do it in a smart, fiscally-responsible way that leverages a modest investment of state tax dollars to unlock significant financial support from private business, our partners next door in Massachusetts, and the federal taxes we’ve already sent to Washington and deserve to bring back to New Hampshire,” said Van Ostern.

 “Today’s draft plan is not the end of the discussion – I look forward to working with lawmakers who are hard at work right now developing additional public-private partnerships and financing options,” said Pappas.  “Together, we’ll make passenger rail from Boston to central New Hampshire a reality.”

 Shortly after being elected to the Executive Council in 2012, Councilors Van Ostern and Pappas voted to authorize the Capitol Corridor Rail & Transit Study, which concluded in December of 2014 and provided much of the data reflected in this proposal. (Cap Corridor summary: http://www.nh.gov/dot/org/aerorailtransit/railandtransit/documents/fr-summary.pdf)

Rep Annie Kuster Hosts Regional Passenger Rail Summit in Nashua

Rep. Kuster welcomes the audience at her passenger rail summit in Nashua.

Rep. Kuster welcomes the audience at her passenger rail summit in Nashua.

 Nashua, NH – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) hosted a passenger rail summit discussing ongoing and upcoming rail projects around the Northeast. The summit convened federal, state and local transportation experts as well as over 100 stakeholders from across New England to provide updates on key projects and to highlight the economic impact of passenger rail across the region. 

During the summit, representatives from the Federal Railroad Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the New England states’ departments of transportation gave presentations addressing the challenges facing passenger rail projects across the region, as well as the role of passenger rail on the local workforce and economy.  Following the last presentation, attendees were able to ask questions directly to Congresswoman Kuster and the other presenters.

“Our transportation networks in New Hampshire serve as vital economic engines that drive economic growth and create jobs in our communities,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “If we are to expand passenger rail both in New Hampshire and around New England, it is essential that we coordinate our efforts across all states to build a continuous rail system that meets the needs of our workforce, our employees, and our families. I am so thrilled that representatives from leading transportation authorities across the region and the nation were able to join me for this summit toady and share updates as well as best practices when it comes to ongoing and upcoming rail projects. I look forward to working together to strengthen our transportation infrastructure so we can best meet the needs of our residents, businesses and tourists alike, today and for many generations to come.” 

Today’s summit gave transportation professionals a chance to share their expertise, suggestions, and concerns with Congresswoman Kuster on how Congress can better support rail infrastructure in the Granite State and across the region. Experts were also able to use Monday’s summit to hear comprehensive updates on nearby rail projects so that they can identify best practices and better coordinate strategy to drive forward ongoing and future rail projects across the region.

Congresswoman Kuster has been a strong advocate for federal funding for projects to repair and expand New Hampshire’s transportation infrastructure. She is a member of the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Caucus, and she has consistently supported appropriations for Amtrak during her time in Congress. Kuster also recently led 60 members of Congress in a request to the House Appropriations Committee to provide robust funding for capital projects to expand or establish rail transit. She has long supported expanded transportation options in southern New Hampshire, which would connect Granite Staters in New Hampshire’s largest population centers to Boston and help boost the New Hampshire economy and create jobs.

 

Bi-Partisan Group Of State Legislators Met With Community Members From The Nashua Area

 

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From Left: Efstathia Booras – D Hillsborough 33, David Murotake – R – Hillsborough 32, Martin Jack – D – Hillsborough 36 Suzanne Harvey – D Hillsborough 29, C. Lee Guerette – D – Hillsborough 33, Kenneth Gidge – D – Hillsborough 33, Daniel Hansberry – D- Hillsborough 35

Community Members from the Nashua Labor Coalition and the Granite State Organizing Project discussed issues ranging from Right To Work, to capping title loans, to raising the Minimum Wage.

(Nashua, NH) — Thirty to forty people attended an open forum with seven Nashua area State Representatives to discuss the issues that are weighing on the minds of the community. Community members asked a variety of questions like how they plan to vote on the “right to work” legislation, charter schools, public transportation, and raising the minimum wage.

“No contract can include an agency fee or fair-share agreement that was not agreed to by both the employer and the union collectively,” said Deb Howes, Chair of the Nashua Labor Coalition. “Right To Work would allow people to benefit from a collective bargaining agreement without paying for it, and that is just wrong.”

“We are voting on this Right To Work legislation later in week, and you need to reach out to your legislators and ask them to vote it down,” stated Representative Dan Hansberry.

Everyone in the crowd was looking forward to hearing about where the Representatives’ stand on raising the minimum wage. Throughout New Hampshire over 70% of people polled supported raising the minimum wage, a truly bi-partisan issue. All of the Representatives who attended support raising the minimum wage.

Last year, the House passed a minimum wage increase, and the Senate killed it in a 12-12 tie. “I am a Republican and a small business owner, and I support raising the minimum wage,” stated Rep. David Murotake. He implied that the bill could get through the House, but would most likely be killed by the Senate again. “I suggest you talk to your Republican Senators and urge them to support a minimum wage increase.”

One of the other questions that generated lots of discussion came from David Lamb, a Nashua local, who asked about increasing public transportation throughout New Hampshire. The Concord Rail Study laid out a number of different options that New Hampshire could choose to expand rail services in New Hampshire.

“If you want to attract people, if you want to attract companies, and brings jobs we need to expand the rail system throughout New Hampshire,” said Representative Kenneth Gidge.

All of the Representatives in attendance seem to support expanding rail service throughout New Hampshire, including the lone Republican, Rep. Murotake who stated, “I have supported rail for a long time and I don’t think support for rail is a partisan issue.” Rep. Murotake concluded his statement on the rail project with a message of hope for those who support expanding rail service in New Hampshire. “Maybe not this year, or next year, or four years from now, but I believe it is going to happen.”

Paul Belanger a letter carrier of forty-two years, proposed the idea of “no-excuse absentee” balloting and voting by mail. He asked the Representatives if they would support a move to vote by mail like they do in Oregon. “In Oregon, over 80% of registered voters voted in the last election,” said Belanger. Rep. Murotake quickly voiced his support for the idea referring back to his days in the military where he always voted by mail.

“People are busy, we work hard, and getting to the polls can be difficult. We should be looking into ways to expanding access to the ballot box,” said Matt Murray, a member of the Nashua Labor Coalition. “Voting by mail and early voting are two very good and viable options for New Hampshire.”

Rep. Gidge explained that there is currently a bill in the House to expand absentee voting, but currently it would only allow family members to drop off absentee ballots.

The issue of charter school funding sparked some slightly heated debate from some of the teachers in the audience. The majority of the Reps. said they supported public charters and some thought we should be increasing funding to these charter schools. The overwhelming response from the crowd was that the money spent on charter schools is eroding the rest of the public school system. Nashua schools have seen programs like the “Gifted and Talented (GATE)” eliminated due to budgetary cuts at the state and local levels. One teacher suggested moving the charter schools back into the public schools, giving more access to more students and eliminating the costs of a separate school.

Deb Howes closed the night by stating, “On behalf of the Nashua Labor Coalition and Granite State Organizing Project, I would like to thank all of the Representatives for attending tonight and taking time out of your busy schedules to meet with us. We hope that this has been as informative for you as it has been for us.”

The Nashua Labor Coalition is a chapter of NH AFL-CIO. It includes Nashua Area Affiliated and Non-Affiliated Unions, as well as community organizations.

Granite State Organizing Project is a coalition of religious, community and labor organizations addressing the issues of affordable housing, jobs, access to health care, quality education and immigrant and refugee rights.

 

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?

Congresswoman Kuster Meets With Nashua Area Business Leaders About Expanding Rail And Transportation Infrastructure

Kuster Hosts Nashua Roundtable on How Passenger Rail, Expanded Transportation Infrastructure Could Support Economic Development in New Hampshire

Kuster convened business and transportation leaders to discuss the expansion of passenger rail into the Nashua area

Kuster Nashua Rail Roundtable

Nashua, N.H. – This morning, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) hosted a roundtable at Nashua Community College to discuss the possible expansion of passenger rail into New Hampshire and other ways to support transportation infrastructure and foster job creation around the Granite State.

During the discussion, Kuster heard directly from business and transportation leaders about current challenges and deficits in our state’s transportation network, and about how expanded rail and other increased transportation options would benefit their businesses and the local economy. Roundtable participants included Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, Nashua Chamber of Commerce President Chris Williams, State Senators Bette Lasky and Peggy Gilmour, as well as representatives from the NH Division of Economic Development, the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, the NH Rail Transit Authority, the NH Department of Transportation, and Nashua Municipal Airport.

“During today’s roundtable, I was grateful to hear from so many business and community leaders about the importance of maintaining a strong transportation infrastructure to spur economic development and job creation in the region and across the Granite State,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “New Hampshire can’t lead in the 21st century economy with 20th century infrastructure, and I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure our local businesses have the infrastructure support they need to expand and create more jobs in the state. I sincerely thank today’s participants for sharing their expertise, and I look forward to working together to strengthen our roads, bridges, and railways so we can meet the needs of residents, businesses, and tourists alike – and protect vital construction jobs for our workers.”

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 those discussed during today’s roundtable. Kuster also introduced the DRIVE Now Act, legislation to help the state fix our roads and bridges and support vital construction jobs. She supports expanded transportation options in southern New Hampshire, which would connect Granite Staters in New Hampshire’s largest population centers to Boston (and vice-versa), and help boost the New Hampshire economy and create jobs.

Last year, the New Hampshire Executive Council approved the acceptance of a $3.9 million federal grant for a feasibility study on the costs and benefits of expanded passenger rail in the Granite State. The report is due to state transportation officials by the end of 2014.

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