Last night I attended a public hearing for the upcoming NH State Rail Plan. It's in the preliminary stages but the hearing was for NH DOT officials and their contract engineering firm to at least lay the groundwork of what they are planning to publish.
From what I saw it was mostly an analysis of freight rail in New Hampshire with a limited overlay of passenger rail systems including the Amtrak Doweaster and the proposed rail systems in Nashua, Manchester and Concord. The meeting was well run and the presenters were interested in public input which I testified in areas ranging from intermodal transporation policy to the volatility in freight rates and its impact(s) to both trucking and railroads. I used my policy experience in the legislature and my recent experience at an OTR truck driver to build my case.
It should be interesting to see if NH DOT considers the public testimony in its preparation of the Statewide Rail Plan. I'll guard my skeptism for now.
The best part of the meeting for me was cornering a member of the NH Rail Transit Authority whose dissolution legislation now sits in the Senate. It took me a few minutes to get past the good idea, life is wonderful aspect of what this state authority does and I was finally able to get in a question edgewise:
How do you propose to pay for this service? Specifically, the part(s) that federal grants won't cover?
I then asked it a different way. Do you think its fair to raise taxes on New Hampshire residents to pay for what the NH Rail Authority proposes?
Then this person started talking about Plaistow, NH and the rail improvements that are happening there and I explained that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is paying for all these improvements including track rehabilitation and a locomotive layover facility. "They (MBTA) might be willing to do the same up in Nashua." this person said.
So now I'm thinking, "this is great let Massachusetts pay for transportation in New Hampshire."
I don't think this can work. I don't think it should work.