In December of 2011 we posted a story about the history of plans to extend the MBTA's commuter rail system into the State of New Hampshire.
At the end of that post we talked about how the MBTA, NHDOT, Rockingham Planning Commission and the towns of Plaistow and Atkinson New Hampshire were all working together to try and extend the MBTA's Haverhill Line to Plaistow. Ultimately the project was shot down by Atkinson residences in early 2012. As of last week however the plan seems to be making a comeback.
The New Hampshire Department of Transportation says its studying alternatives for a possible extension and will be holding a public meeting on August 22nd to hear from area residents.
When the plan was inroduced in 2011 the residents of Atkinson disliked the idea of having a layover facility in their backyard. In December of 2011, The Plaistow Area Transit Advisory Committee met for the first time in more than a decade to discuss the project. The meeting, which took place at the Atkinson Community Center, was attended by dozens of concerned Atkinson residents and local officials. The meeting eventually turned into a shouting match between residents as committee member Tim Moore tried to explain the facts of the project. According to The Eagle Tribune, the meeting got out of hand numerous times, with people shouting and interrupting each other.
Plaistow officials have been trying to bring commuter rail service to their area for years. They say that extending the commuter line would ease traffic on NH Route 125 and would help put Plaistow and the surrounding areas into metro Boston commerce.
The first step in the project will be for the Town of Plaistow's Executive Council to pass a $658,316 feasibility study. The study will be done by HDR Engineering in Boston and will take about 18 months. The firm will do an environmental assessment of sites for a layover facility and a station platform. The study also would include estimates of the operating cost and forecast ridership.
Plaistow Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald says it is important for voters to realize the benefits of this project. “This project represents extraordinary opportunities to capitalize on existing infrastructure that would be unique to this rail project,” he said.
The public meeting will be held at Plaistow Town Hall (145 Main St) at 7pm on August 22nd.