EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 3, 2008

MBTA eyes Plaistow for new commuter rail station

HAVERHILL — The MBTA wants to extend the Haverhill-to-Boston commuter rail line closer to New Hampshire, possibly even setting up a stop in Plaistow, said state Sen. Steven Baddour.

He said the MBTA is negotiating to buy property north of downtown Haverhill for a new commuter stop and to also provide space for a layover station — a place where trains park and idle overnight.

The layover station has been located at Haverhill's Bradford commuter station since 1987. Neighbors of that station have complained for years that the idling trains wake them up in the early-morning hours and put fumes in the open windows of homes during the summer.

"The neighbors in Bradford have had to deal with the layover station near their homes for long enough," Baddour said.

The MBTA is looking at several locations in Haverhill and Plaistow for the layover station and new commuter stop, said Baddour, D-Methuen, who is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. He said the MBTA should know by the end of the year whether the new station is going to happen.

Baddour said he has secured $10 million to move the layover facility in the Senate version of the new transportation bond bill. The money can be used to buy land, move the layover facility and build a new station, he said.

While only the governor can release funds for items in the transportation bond bill, the authority also has its own money that it could use for the project, Baddour said.

Last year, the MBTA considered moving the layover station to the former Lucent Technologies site in North Andover, where a new commuter stop was also being considered. North Andover opposed the layover, however, and it did not go forward for that and other reasons, Baddour said.

Adding a stop in North Andover would have further extended the already long train ride to Boston, Baddour said. Adding a stop north of Haverhill would not affect the ride to Boston because downtown Haverhill is currently the last stop on the line.

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