Rail advocates try to save state rail authority

By Grant Bosse on April 11, 2011
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Jake Berry reports in the Nashua Telegraph that an amendment would keep the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority on the books, but with much less actual authority.

Members of the Senate’s Transportation Committee will likely vote this week on an amendment, which would rewrite current legislation to eliminate the authority, proposing instead to limit its scope and leave the project financing in the hands of the state Legislature.

The transportation committee will likely vote on the matter Thursday, sending it forward to the full Senate.

“It’s a rational compromise that allows the state to … do the study,” said Sen. David Boutin, R-Hooksett, who introduced the amendment.

“Then, once we have the data in hand, someone may want to come back to the Legislature. … That’s the way it should work.”

But Transit Authority members argue the amendment would strip the board of its influence, leaving it unable to monitor existing passenger train service along the Vermont border and on the Seacoast, as well as the so-called “Central Corridor” project, which would include stops in Nashua and Manchester in addition to Concord.

The RTA is a state-run, federally-funded group designed to lobby the Legislature in favor of passenger rail construction and subsidies. Whether or not you think taxpayers should be paying for others to get to work, lawmakers should be able to make up their own mind without a taxpayer-funded lobbying group tilting the scales.

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