Abandoning rail in N.H. was a mistake

To the editor:

New Hampshire has spent a half a century neglecting what was once a great rail network. Instead we have poured billions into a road system we strain to keep updated.

You can drive from Concord to Lebanon or Littleton on a four-lane highway and not pay a penny – and the cost to maintain those roads is paid by taxpayers. We invest billions in expanding I-93 from Salem to Manchester, but the road on either end remains the same, meaning the morning commute into Boston will see more cars dumped into an inadequate roadway, and Friday tourist traffic will be even more bogged down in Concord.

Meanwhile, across the border in Maine, the Downeaster, with public support, has been successfully expanded to Brunswick. After a decade of Downeaster service, Portland’s downtown has four major new hotels, as the weekend trip from Boston to Portland is easy – bypassing the traffic and tolls on Route 95. Tourism is our second biggest industry, and rail service would make Nashua, Manchester and Concord a little over an hour away from North Station, bringing tourism, business and commuters.

With gas flirting with $4 a gallon, the concept to shift cars to rail is not a hard one to make:

Cars equal nearly three-quarters of U.S. oil consumption. Moving from passenger cars to trains can relieve highway congestion and slash the amount of oil we consume.

Abandoning rail in New Hampshire was a mistake. As fuel prices soar, we need to keep transportation affordable. We need to find a balance of rail, roads, and other new ideas. Rail is cost-effective, energy-efficient, and we can no longer look at it as a political issue, but one that is crucial to the economy of New Hampshire and New England.

Jayme H. Simões
Louis Karno & Company Communications LLC

Categories: Letters to the Editor