EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

September 14, 2010

Plaistow wants to get rail project on track

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.

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