PLAISTOW— Residents can voice their opinions tomorrow night on a $29.5 million plan to build commuter rail and layover stations.
The proposal calls for extending Boston-Haverhill train service over the state line into Plaistow. The information meeting begins at 7 p.m. on the second floor of Town Hall.
"We welcome folks to bring us their concerns," Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said.
He said bringing the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority line to Plaistow would provide a tremendous boost to the community in terms of convenience, economic development and reducing the number of vehicles on roads.
With an estimated 60 percent of Plaistow residents working in Massachusetts, Fitzgerald said the rail service would provide more efficient travel to the Bay State and improve air quality because there would be fewer drivers on the road.
As proposed, an estimated 737 commuters would use the service daily, diverting 670 vehicles from Route 125 in Plaistow and Haverhill. The commuter station would be built on Westville Road and the layover station some 2,000 feet away.
Town officials are expected to give an overall update on the project at the meeting tomorrow, including the status of two grant requests. There also will be an open forum for people to ask questions and express concerns.
"It will take some open hands and open minds," Fitzgerald said.
Despite its benefits, he said, some residents are worried about moving the layover station to Plaistow from nearby Bradford. Residents there have complained about the noise and fumes from trains left idling overnight.
"I've had a few people come in and express concerns," Fitzgerald said yesterday. "They didn't want to inherit the problems that came with Bradford."
The project has received the backing of state leaders and Plaistow business owners, including 40 who signed a letter in support of the project, he said. Sound barriers are planned to minimize noise and pollution.
The project is proposed in conjunction with the MBTA, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and the Rockingham Planning Commission. The town has applied for nearly $30 million in grants.
Among those concerned about the project are Ken and Joan Veroneau of Laurel Avenue, who live about a half-mile way from the proposed site. They said many of their neighbors are concerned as well, but are not willing to speak out.
"We've been here for 50-odd years," Joan Veroneau said. "It seems a shame to have those trains waiting overnight just down beyond us."
Her husband agreed. Although Ken Veroneau said he didn't know about the meeting, he plans to attend.
"I can remember all the problems they have been having in Bradford and they just want to bring it up to us," he said. "I don't know what the benefit of this is to the town of Plaistow. It's beyond me why they are anxious to get it in here."
Fitzgerald said the meeting is an opportunity to get the project on the right track.
"That gives us a chance to begin the dialogue and address many of the concerns," he said.
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