May 17, 2007

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Publisher's Note: Rail stop
By Jody Reese

The train to Boston got a little less likely recently with the decision of a developer to not include a rail station in his Nashua plans.

The plan had been for Packard Development to build a 450,000- square-foot strip mall with a rail station in it. That piece of land was the site of a chemical company and is on East Spit Brook Road near D.W. Highway. Packard removed the station because the company felt the state of New Hampshire wasn’t moving fast enough to put rail in. The state must create a rail authority, create some sort of liability cap for the rail service and, of course, help fund some of the cost of extending the line from Lowell to Nashua. This will all take some time.

For those who favor rail, there is still some hope. Other parcels of land still exist along the tracks where a station can be built.

Rail in New Hampshire has had some setbacks. The state Supreme Court ruled that money from the gas tax could not be used to help fund it and our elected officials haven’t always fully supported it. That is now changing.

Adding rail to Nashua, then to Manchester, Concord and finally perhaps to Laconia would be a boon for this state. We’re the only major suburb of Boston that doesn’t have rail service into the city. The service would more closely tie us to the Boston area and that can only be good for everyone. For property owners that means increasing values and for younger workers that means more job opportunities.

Rail is not some ecological frou-frou idea. It’s one of the more tangible ways to help area business, build the Manchester airport and grow our young population, a necessity as baby boomers start to retire.

Led by state Sen. Dave Gottesman and Rep. Bette Lasky, the state is stepping up to create a rail commission and deal with the liability issues.

And though it’s disappointing to see the East Spit Brook Road location crossed off there are still lots of places along the tracks to put in a rail station. Developers work at a much faster pace than government, so we shouldn’t be surprised by this.

Most importantly, we need to keep the pressure on the state to get the laws passed and the money allocated to get rail in.

***

Roundabout way
Concord has finally approved a roundabout on Liberty Street at the intersection of Auburn and Centre streets — the scene of many accidents in last few years.

Roundabouts get a bad rap in New Hampshire. They’re popular in Massachusetts and Vermont and that might be the problem. Our knee-jerk reaction here is to oppose anything that those to our south embrace.

Roundabouts consistently cut down on accidents and help keep traffic moving, though they do take up more land than a traditional four-way stoplight. It’s a good move for Concord. .