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New Hampshire

August 3, 2013

Public asked to weigh in on rail study

PLAISTOW — Residents will get their chance to voice their opinions before a pricey commuter rail study kicks off later this year.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation and HDR Engineering will hold a listening session on Aug. 22 at Plaistow Town Hall to hear people’s thoughts on the benefits and concerns of extending the commuter rail from Haverhill to Plaistow.

“It’s important to hear from the taxpayers in the area about what they want to see out of the study,” said Mark Sanborn, federal liaison for DOT.

The $659,000 study was authorized by DOT to examine locations for a potential train station and layover facility in Plaistow. The study is funded through a grant, approved through federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds.

“We have to know the facts before we can make an informed decision,” Selectman Daniel Poliquin said.

The study will explore possible sites, design concepts and analyze impacts on the community.

The session will give opponents of the study a chance to voice their concerns. In a nonbinding referendum in 2012, residents overwhelmingly rejected a layover station in Plaistow, 619-308.

Audrey Peck, a Plaistow resident who led the opposition, said she would be submitting questions regarding the study to state.

“I just think it’s an outrageous amount of money to do this survey,” she said. “It seems to me like they are putting the cart before the horse.”

Another interested party in the session is the town of Atkinson. Conditions were agreed upon between Atkinson and Plaistow that the Westville Homes site on the towns’ border cannot be studied.

“We have a seat at the table and we are glad we are able to participate and add comments to the process,” Atkinson Town Administrator William Innes said.

He said he was neutral on the idea of a train station in Plaistow, but was skeptical of the benefits.

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