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March 7, 2014

Sites unveiled for potential Plaistow rail station

Eight locations studied in Plaistow, Atkinson, Haverhill

PLAISTOW — The engineering firm hired to study the possibility of commuter rail coming into Southern New Hampshire unveiled possible sites for a layover and commuter station yesterday.

There are six potential sites for a layover station and five for a passenger station.

Three of the layover stations would be located in Plaistow, with two touching the Plaistow border in Atkinson and one in Haverhill, Mass. Four of the five passenger stations are located in Plaistow, with one touching the Plaistow border in Atkinson.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation directed HDR Engineering to look at all possible sites north of the existing Haverhill station up to the Newton line.

“These are sites that could be considered doable,” HDR Engineering project manager Ron O’Blenis said.

The locations were unveiled at a meeting of the Plaistow Rail Advisory Committee. Stakeholders from HDR Engineering, Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, NHDOT, Rockingham Planning Commission, and Plaistow and Atkinson representatives were present.

While there are 11 options for the two stations, there are only eight separate locations. Three locations are being looked at for both a commuter station and a layover station.

“It would make sense for the layover station and passenger station to be located near each other,” said John Weston of HDR Engineering. “But that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.”

Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald cautioned that this just a very early step in a long process.

“This is preliminary and there will be a lot of configurations,” he said. “These sites will be vetted through technical discussions. There will be a public meeting to present these options and why a number of them won’t work.”

The northernmost layover station would be located at the Newton border off Kingston Road.

“That area presents concerns because it’s located in a residential area and close to an aquifer,” Fitzgerald said.

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