March 18. 2014 10:02PM

Rail study: Three stations for Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent

NASHUA — Preliminary findings from a new rail study indicate the possibility of three train stations in Nashua if commuter rail makes its way back to New Hampshire.

The Capitol Corridor rail study, which is still under way, has already identified potential train stops at the Pheasant Lane Mall, Crown Street and perhaps a layover station at the former WR Grace Organic Chemical site on Spit Brook Road, according to Tom Mahon, chairman of the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority.

Mahon shared some of the initial findings with the aldermanic Planning and Economic Development Committee on Tuesday.In addition to the three possible train stations in Nashua, the study also includes potential stops in Bedford, Manchester and Concord. A less serious idea includes a train station in Merrimack as well, Mahon said.

The ridership is estimated at about 3,100 one-way trips per day, said Mahon. There has been a rough cost projection of about $190 million to construct the Capitol Corridor from Lowell, Mass., to Concord, although he stressed that was not a formal price-tag. He said there are other variables and cost mitigating measures such as support from the MBTA that could alter the cost.

"They haven't given me any numbers yet," he said of the estimated finances, which he expects won't be available until next year.

Mahon said the communities of Nashua, Manchester and Concord all have fairly well-developed plans on how to implement rail in their own cities, adding Merrimack also has significant vacant land available along an existing rail line.

"It is another transportation alternative for residents, and encourages development of commerce and industry along the corridor," Mahon said of passenger rail. Train ridership has the possibility of alleviating traffic congestion while simultaneously promoting high tech jobs by enabling development in multiple communities, according to Mahon.

Estimated weekday train miles for each city range from 1,500 miles to more than 2,000 miles on weekdays, he said. Furthermore, Nashua could expect to see about 16 trains per day, added Mahon.

Alderman-at-Large Dan Moriarty addressed the possible Spit Brook Road train station site, noting this could possibly enable a quick travel route from Exit 2 off the turnpike to the train stop.

Moriarty also questioned Mahon on the NHRTA's media policy after plans to have Dan Kelly, the mayor's designee on the rail board, update officials came to a confusing halt last month.

Moriarty quoted the policy, which stated "each board member has the right to update their town" about ongoing NHRTA efforts. Kelly was scheduled to discuss rail with the committee last month, but at the last minute removed his presentation from the agenda.

Mahon said Kelly has only been on the board since November, and Mahon didn't feel that Kelly "had the depth of knowledge" to provide aldermen with the most accurate picture. In addition, Mahon said Kelly is a designee of Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, and that Kelly has every right to update the mayor and subsequently update other city officials if Lozeau feels it is warranted.