EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

March 3, 2008

MBTA eyes Plaistow for new commuter rail station

The MBTA is looking to extend the Haverhill-to-Boston commuter rail line closer to New Hampshire, possibly even setting up a stop in Plaistow, according to a Massachusetts lawmaker.

Sen. Steven Baddour, D-Methuen, said the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority 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 send fumes through 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, 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.

Plaistow officials have been trying to get a commuter rail stop in town for years without success.

Selectman Dan Poliquin was excited to learn that dream could finally become a reality.

"I think it would be a definite benefit," he said. "So if it would benefit Plaistow and the area towns, we'll take it."

Town Manager Jason Hoch was a little more skeptical. He said the plan was always for Plaistow to complement the station in Haverhill.

"However it gets here, we would love it," he said. "But I don't think the conversation has ever been to take it at Haverhill's expense ... we want to share, not take."

Part of Hoch's hesitation is due to the fact the MBTA would have to cross into New Hampshire. The authority doesn't serve any state other than Massachusetts, he said. To make the change, he said, there would be too many "bureaucratic obstacles" to overcome.

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