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Joyce Endee

Public invited to discuss future of statewide rail

At 6 p.m. on March 8 at Berlin City Hall

February 22, 2012
BERLIN — The third and final public meeting to hear public comments on draft recommendations for the state's rail system is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, at Berlin City Hall.

This meeting — along with earlier ones on Feb. 29 in Portsmouth and on March 5 in Nashua — is designed as an opportunity for the public to learn more about the rail system and then to comment on these recommendations.

The state Department of Transportation (NHDOT) is in the process of updating the New Hampshire State Rail Plan (NHSRP) in order to examine existing strengths and weaknesses of the state's rail system and to make recommendations for the future.

HDR, Inc., is serving as the Plan consultant, and Ron O'Blenis will be the presenter that evening, according to Carol Morris, president of Morris Communications of Kennebunkport, Me. who is the point person for NHSRP Outreach.

HDR is a global employee-owned firm providing architecture, engineering, consulting, construction and related services through various operating companies with a total of over 7,800 professionals.

Administrator Christopher "Kit" Morgan of the Rail and Transit Division of NHDOT will also be on hand.

Based on meetings with railroads, shippers and other stakeholders plus research on rail freight shipping, HDR professionals have identified a set of specific recommendations that would improve New Hampshire's rail network and support its economic contributions to the state.

Comments from the public are encouraged and can be made by attending a meeting and/or going to www.nh.gov/dot/org/aerorailtransit/railandtransit/rail-plan.htm

Questions and active discussion on the draft recommendations will be encouraged at the planned public forums. The updated Rail Plan will identify rail's role in the regional transportation network and its effect on the state's current and future economy.

The Rail Plan will include both freight and passenger rail initiatives. Discussion will include Pan Am Railways, New England Central RR, and the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad, as well as passenger service, including Amtrak's Downeaster and the potential for expansion of tourist passenger rail services, including the Conway Scenic and Hobo Railroads.

Material developed to date, including presentations and meeting reports, can be viewed at www.nh.gov/dot/org/aerorailtransit/railandtransit/rail-plan.htm. The Plan is slated for completion at mid-year when it must be accepted by NHDOT.

Questions on any of the meetings and their purpose can be directed to Morris, Rail Plan Public Outreach at either 207-329-6502 or cmorris@morriscomm.net.

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