PLAISTOW — The state Department of Transportation listened to questions and concerns from residents last night, as it embarks on a year-long, $659,000 study to look at potentially bringing the commuter rail to New Hampshire.
“We want to start off this process by speaking to all of you and making sure that the information we’re looking at meets the needs of Plaistow and the surrounding communities,” said Mark Sanborn, federal liaison at NHDOT.
Funded through a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant, the study will examine locations and design concepts for a potential train station and layover facility in town. It will also analyze potential impacts on the community.
Ron O’Blenis, the project manager for HDR Engineering who will be conducting the study, said he has not yet begun to examine which sites are most feasible.
But two sites that were ruled out due to an agreement between Plaistow and Atkinson were the Penn Box site on Main Street, and the Westville Homes site on the border of Atkinson and Plaistow.
O’Blenis said all sites between the Haverhill station and Plaistow’s border with Newton would be considered in the study.
Sanborn also did not rule out a commuter rail station coming without a layover station being located in Plaistow.
“It is one of the alternatives that will be included in the study,” Sanborn said. “Another alternative will be a 'no-build' one, which is not to go forward with the project.”
Resident's questions about the study ranged from concerns about safety to parking, though their primary concern seemed to be that they would have a final say.
“If we are going to have this plan 'railroaded' in Plaistow,” said resident Linda Hemingway, “I think we need to have the final say.”
NHDOT representatives would not guarantee that would happen, but did say it was unlikely a station would be built without community support.