Executive Coucilor Ray Burton supports spending $1.3 million dollars on the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad through northern New Hampshire. I'm questioning why.
The St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad was constructed in the late 1800s as a link between Canada and industries in New England that today are eithier dead or dying: agriculture, textiles and more recently, paper. I think the major problem with this entire idea is cost. "While the original cost of this project was originally estimated at $7 million. a recent re-costing of the project suggests it will cost $10.3 million." Burton stated. I asked Councilor Burton to explain what kind of return NH taxpayers will see with this kind of capital investment. I've questioned projects like this in the past and usually the response is economic development, jobs and a "public-private partnership."
"There are currently economic and industrial development efforts underway, led by regional, state, and local economic development officials." Burton stated. During the past two years the papermills in Groveton, Berlin and Gorham have either shut down or face and uncertain future. Hundreds of papermakers have lost their jobs. Millions of dollars of taxbase and economic value have disappeared including inbound and outbound rail traffic for the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad. The St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad is owned by publically traded Genesee & Wyoming Railroad which is based in Greenwich, CT. I sent the Genesee & Wyoming Railroad a FAX requesting their position(s) on the capital investment in the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad and how New Hampshire taxpayers will see a return on their investment.
They haven't responded.