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New Hampshire legislators to commuter rail: Thbbft!

New Hampshire Public Radio reports the state's House of Representatives says it won't pay for a study on extending MBTA commuter rail to the state.

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As a former resident of Plaistow, NH I can tell you that the town and the state want NOTHING to do with the MBTA. The tracks are already there. The Amtrak trains already run through town. There is already a park and ride facility at the proposed train station. Yet every vote that comes up in town regarding extending the MBTA across the border, it is shot down by the residents.

Apart from the disdain for Massachusetts politics, the big issue with extending the T is the relocation of the Bradford layover yard. Mass wants to move it out of Haverhill. Plaistow doesn't want it.

This will not happen.

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You're right. No one in NH wants the layover, and Haverhill won't support the extension without moving it. Lose/Lose NIMBY and that's ok I don't blame either side. Once the 93S toll booth goes up and resident stickers are required for discount MBTA passes and parking at MBTA lots, NH might change their tune a bit.

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Joke's on them. The "Alternative 3" layover site for Plaistow was about 100 ft. on the Haverhill side of the state line on what's now a crappy little tractor-trailer lot on Hilldale Ave. Since getting out of Bradford (which was never supposed to last as long as it has) and away from the close-abutting residential neighborhood is an identified environmental justice priority independent of the Plaistow extension, all it takes is some TIGER grant score a few years down the line and the state can unilaterally plunk its relocated yard on the "Alt. 3" site. Atkinson, NH will be able to see/hear/smell the layover yard from their post office on Route 121...and won't be able to do a damn thing about it.

Their impotent screaming will be music to every Haverhill-riding Masshole's ears.

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All politics is local. There is a lot of money in Atkinson that will make this never happen.

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Uh...what part of Haverhill, MA ≠ Atkinson, NH is so hard to understand here? All the money in Atkinson local politics can't interfere with the business of another state. They have no influence over Haverhill local pols; they can't have their legislators launch a proxy war against Haverhill. The only thing the locals on that side of the border can do is appeal to the feds to quash the layover siting. And that's not a move with high historical odds of success when it comes to similar case precedent with the Federal Railroad Administration and fed-level EPA.

The remaining layover yard site still in-play is entirely in Massachusetts, and now entirely decoupled from the canceled Plaistow passenger station. The only part of the former "Alt. 3" design that touched New Hampshire was an access driveway to the Hilldale Ave./Route 121 intersection...something they'll surely redesign to stay entirely on the MA side of the border now that the passenger station is canceled to avoid having to engage NH local permitting. The Haverhill Line needs to have its layover moved away from the residential abutters of Bradford at earliest financial convenience. It also needs a bigger layover yard period if it's ever going to see service increases on those overstuffed rush hour trains, because Bradford's operating way over-capacity. The state-line site is in the middle of an industrial park >1000 ft. from the nearest dwelling and thickly buffered by trees. City of Haverhill couldn't be more enthusiastic about that site in the middle of nowhere after putting up with Bradford since 1990 and the even more invasive predecessor layover yard 3 blocks north of the downtown station during the 1970's-80's. Atkinson is going to have a hard time making a convincing quality-of-life case to the feds for spiking that site given how large the buffer is from any residential buildings in their town.

If/when this happens, it'll be a lot of impotent screaming on that side of the state line...and a nonchalant shrug on this side.

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You don't need commuter rail for people who commute from Merrimack to Billerica. You do need the Green Line up to Medford though in case the T cannot figure that out.

While we are at it, let's put up Southbound toll booths in Tyngsboro, Methuen, and Salisbury for the skinflinters of Derry, (London)Derry, Salem, Pelham, Plaistow. Those towns have all the grace of a street fight on Canal Street after a B's game. Make pay even more for their Live Free or Die but work in Massachusetts attitude.

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People who commute from Merrimack to Billerica are not looking to take a train.

People who commute from NH to Boston already take the train. The purpose of trying to extend the line into NH was to take the pressure off the existing T infrastructure in places like Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell etc as well as the roadways in Massachusetts.

But go ahead and put your toll booths up if that makes you happy. The majority of people commuting across the border don't do it at an interstate.

And just as a final FYI - NH Residents pay MA taxes if they work in MA.

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What about all the NH residents who garage their vehicles here illegally and skate excise tax?

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Well, report them!

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Nothing ever comes of it. First tried faxing the forms, then mailing them in. Oh well.

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NH has excise tax.

The rate is slightly lower than MA (1.8% versus 2.25%). But that's just for a new car's first year -- the tax rates are equal in both states the second year, and NH's rate is higher after that. Plus NH uses the MSRP to value the car, which is higher than the NADA value used by MA.

So you don't end up saving anything on excise tax by registering your car in NH.

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The majority of people commuting across the border don't do it at an interstate.

If you have evidence for that, I'd like to see it. What I have already seen is many thousands of cars with NH plates filling up Rte 3 and Rte 93 every morning and evening. I don't think they're going shopping.

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Route 3 isn't an Eisenhower Insterstate System highway. You won't hit a toll on the F.E. Everett until Bedford, either, unless you take a Merrimack exit (10-12). I've said this before, including the fact that you won't hit a toll in I93 in NH until you get to Hooksett.

I'm not saying that MA shouldn't find means to collect more for their roadway system. I'm just of the impression the vast majority of tolls in NH outside of I95 at the border are collecting tolls from NH residents.

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Haha. I am picturing something like this happening in the commuter rail cars:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySEkuf94my4

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Use an electronic system. Enter plate number and state, and pay for parking. Charge more for NH vehicles to make up for what MA drivers already pay for their city/town MBTA assessment.

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<>

That's because they're full of Republican ex-Massholes

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2008 & 2012

Since 1997 - 3 Dem Governors

Rejection of Scott Brown

New Hampshire is Purple. Not Red. Not Blue.

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Democrats can win state-wide, but towns like Salem, Derry, Windham, Plaistow, etc are usually solid red.

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Nobody cares about local politicians unless you have kids in the school system.

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You are so angry.

To disprove your point above - NH Traffic Counts at MA / NH State Lines 2015:

I-93 in Salem - 104,409. Route 3 in Nashua - 88,000, Route 28 in Salem - 22,000, Route 1 in Seabrook - 11,000, I-95 in Seabrook - 92,380. Route 125 in Plaistow - 22,800 (2014).

They are not all sneaking through Pelham or Hollis and of course we all know they pay MA income tax. Tax them more for using our roads and infrastructure.

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They may not pay for the study, but we will make them pay for the wall. And it will be beautiful. Very tall. It just went up another foot. Any the only Hampshixicans that come in will enter legally. Just none of their Muslims.

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and make new hampshire pay for it

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Great! All those folks living in southern NH who are driving 150 miles a day can start working locally, instead. I hear they're planning on opening a jobs factory in Plaistow, which ought to give the local economy a boost.

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Which makes your comment seem a tad silly.

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That the people who work in Massachusetts count in that figure, right?

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But implying that Plaistow is somehow in need of jobs is just silly.

Half of Haverhill works there.

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What would that rate be if all residents worked in state?

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Your answer is in your question.

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I think it's more like NH legislators say "Thbbft!" To NH commuting residents. After all they're the group who stands to be impacted most. If they don't want it they don't want it but seems to me it would be of some convenience for many.
It's too bad really, regardless of reason, that this option can't be offered.

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Had its mayoral race this past election cycle in 2015, commuter rail was part of the campaign interests of at least one of the guys running for office. It's been flirted with for at least the past 30 years, going from Lowell, to Nashua (once or twice), all the way to Manchester. There's a constituency in those towns that would probably love the commuter rail, but the rest of the state legislature is probably likely to reject it. It's similar, in my mind, to those outside of 495 who don't want to pay for the T, where those who are in Concord or further probably couldn't give a damn about those in Southern NH. To their credit, with no sales or income tax, you'd have to wonder where NH would come up with the revenue source for it, anyway.

Not arguing with you, here, just adding a bit more context I thought might be useful.

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The insight

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and although Plaistow may not want commuter rail because of the layover facility, Nashua actually does want commuter rail.

Lowell station, as a terminus, is overcrowded and is one of the busiest stations on the north side commuter rail, and parking is maxed out. Residents of North Chelmsford (which is poised to gain a station near Vinal Square) and Tyngsboro, as well as surrounding Massachusetts towns, definitely will benefit, and it would relieve parking pressure on Lowell and North Billerica.

Nashua was looking at two stations (one near the Tyngsboro line and Pheasant Lane Mall, and the other in downtown Nashua.) Both are expected to draw a good number of daily commuters, and the Mall could draw from Lowell residents who wish to shop.

Manchester Airport and the city of Manchester also have shown interest.

You can only expand I-93 and Route 3 so much. Hopefully those in Concord open their eyes and build it now, before it becomes even more expensive.

And as an aside, love the Bill the Cat inference in Adam's headline.

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Last time extending the Lowell Line was about to happen, "neighbors" of the proposed station in Nashua got their elected persons to veto it. I think the station was to be at the end of Spit Brook Rd., and I don't think there is any housing there. At the time, I lived a short walk from that proposed N. Chelmsford stop, and was very disappointed that it didn't happen.

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Royal Crest Apartments are right behind the Shaw's plaza. A bit further up the way there are other apartment complexes, too, such as Twin Ponds, etc. But the tracks there are on the other side of Daniel Webster Highway. Not sure where they'd put anything on the Spit Brook Rd. side of things.

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Which would be the end where the tracks are. At least according to Google, Spit Brook continues across DWH to near the tracks. Your Royal Crest Apartments are up the hill by Rte 3.

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Who knew? I moved out of Nashua many years ago and haven't followed local politics since then.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hampshire_Rail_Transit_Authority

EDIT: So much for that. All the NH Capitol Corridor page is dead.

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They turned down using money from the US Government. Seems kind of foolish to turn away money that's being offered to you.

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You mean like how when a drug dealer offers you the first hit for free, you should just take it, right? Seems foolish not to, right?

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Doing a study in no way commits them to actually building it. It would actually put them on more solid ground for not doing it, really, because it's not like it'd be a cheap project so whatever the number is they could wave around as a big scary TRANSIT COSTS SO MUCH

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begin telling us your journey to being addicted to some drug, right? Because once it was handed to you for free? I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's not an analogy. Definitely not.

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Why should a cost study cost $4 million, when the actual construction costs to start up the CapeFLYER were $3.4 million?

Just put up some accessible platforms and be done with it.

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The study included various options for Manchester full-build with 4 stations (South Nashua, Downtown Nashua, Manchester Airport, Downtown Manchester), and scaled-back alternatives that hit just Nashua. Included development of city transit centers at both the two Nashua stops and Downtown Manchester, plus modeling of airport shuttle service at the Airport stop. So it wasn't just a flat study of 1 service pattern in isolation. Multiple options of very different scale + the real estate development around the stations = more money chewed up by studies.

$4M still is probably too much to chew up with just a study, but it was never quite that simplistic to begin with.

Now, this may not be dead because Nashua is gung-ho enough about it to have a "go it alone" option in-pocket. They already purchased the blighted Crown St. property downtown across from the freight yard for that station, and are sizing up sites around the Mall to purchase (as well as engaging in conversation with the Mall owners about parking and whatnot) for S. Nashua. The Pan Am Railways freight yard downtown, already subject to all-day activity from noisy/smelly freights, has lots of unused space in the back along the river for sticking a layover yard far enough out of the away from abutters that nobody will notice the difference. And the T previously secured lifetime trackage rights to Concord as a contractual perks from one of the Green Line Extension land swaps they pulled with Pan Am.

In a "go it alone", Nashua can self-fund a much more limited-scope study to figure out whether they can build just South Nashua or South Nashua + Downtown...then apply for fed grants on the construction. The rest is just the T working with Pan Am to square arrangements, and getting the NH Legislature to passively okay a variation of the same "Pilgrim Agreement" that allows the T to operate in Rhode Island. As long as the Legislature aren't spiteful bastards, it's no skin off their backs to let Nashua do what it wants.

On the "Broke T" side of the state line, they have several incentives for pressing forward with the extension in spite of the agency's wrecked finances.

-- The Lowell Line has no layover yard, the only line except itty-bitty Stoughton that outright lacks one. This requires them to waste a lot of non-revenue "deadhead" moves of empty trains for shuttling equipment, and causes some irregularities in the schedules when they have imbalanced equipment assignments. They'd save money in the long run by having an end-of-line yard and not having to waste so many empty trains, but there's no land south of the state line suitable for building a layover. They have operating cost control self-interest in pursuing a Nashua layover.

-- Lowell, much like Worcester, is a line that would benefit from more regular midday and reverse-commute service. Lowell's growing, and the farebox recovery on a quasi-intercity line like this looks a lot more bullish going forward than on the purely suburban lines. But can't increase service at all without the layover, so Lowell service is stuck at current levels until they can build that layover.

-- There is a lot of freight track work upcoming in the next 5-8 years on the stretch of track that goes from Bleachery Junction in downtown Lowell (i.e. those freight tracks on the other side of the station) to North Chelmsford Junction 3 miles west along the riverbank. One of the I.O.U.'s in all those Green Line land swaps with Pan Am was a track reconfiguration around Lowell station to reduce freight interference. And Pan Am's Ayer-Portland mainline will need to have its overhead clearances raised so the freight trains can take double-stacked shipping cubes up to Maine, meaning bridge modifications to several of the street overpasses in downtown Lowell. That's MassDOT's #2 statewide freight priority after finishing the same height upgrades on the Albany-Ayer portion of Pan Am. Because there's lucrative freight and freight-to-truck revenue at stake for the state's economy, that kind of heavy construction qualifies for a more diverse set of federal grant aid than a passenger-only project would. The state would have an opportunity to maximize its funding chances by rolling the freight upgrades they have to eventually do with the passenger extension they want to eventually do. Getting a TIGER grant score here would knock off all the necessary work on 3 of the 8 miles to the border.

-- There's not much else that has to be upgraded to make Nashua happen. The track is signaled to Manchester, and has a passenger operating speed of 60 MPH between Lowell and Nashua. With Manchester now dropped from consideration, they no longer need to worry about double-tracking the line past North Chelmsford. It mainly just needs a thorough track resurfacing for smooth ride (it'd be uncomfortably bouncy on the current cruddy track), renewal of 3 small grade crossings, and money paid to Pan Am so they can equip a portion of their Nashua freight yard for a layover. An intermediate stop at North Chelmsford's Vinal Square (which would have good ridership because of the walk-up density and LRTA bus routes) can just be a prefab single side platform.

So while chances just got a lot poorer with the NH Legislature's action, it's not necessarily over. Nashua's got go-it-alone options, and the T + MassDOT have other motivations that'll make them think long and hard (maybe not act...but definitely think) about packaging up some Lowell Line to-do's into a bigger passenger + freight bundle if Nashua were game for it.

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