New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

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Re: New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby Arlington » Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:17 pm

Basically: We don't help commuters, but we can't resist crony capitalism.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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Re: New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:51 pm

Arlington wrote:Basically: We don't help commuters, but we can't resist crony capitalism.


More like: "When tax breaks are your hammer, everything looks like a nail."

Also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b97zJxKEqAk
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Re: New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby dowlingm » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:30 am

It would be nice to think AppleHQ2 would lead to similar "fresh thinking" but one look at their new Cupertino digs shows their urbanist creds are distinctly sub.
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Re: New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:00 am

Well ... Regardless of "why" ... he's still coming out in favor of it.

It's a ground breaking moment for New Hampshire. The Sununu family has been the absolute bedrock of the highway lobby's power for a long time.
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Re: New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby scratchy » Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:04 pm

dowlingm wrote:It would be nice to think AppleHQ2 would lead to similar "fresh thinking" but one look at their new Cupertino digs shows their urbanist creds are distinctly sub.


Except on the planet that their 70s album cover spaceship HQ comes from.
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Re: New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:11 pm

Arlington wrote:Basically: We don't help commuters, but we can't resist crony capitalism.


I think it's worth noting that this study is going forward even though Amazon isn't coming to New Hampshire. The Governor seemed to indicate in his comments that the views of the local business lobby in Manchester and Concord had been very significant to his reversal. That lobby represents commuters more directly as their employers than anyone else other than the passenger organizations (such as TrainRiders Northeast).
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Re: New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby Arlington » Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:01 pm

I am officially grateful that a Sununu has tipped the scales in favor of study. May it herald a new bipartisan era.
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Re: New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:21 pm

Arlington wrote:I am officially grateful that a Sununu has tipped the scales in favor of study. May it herald a new bipartisan era.


Until the next election when "The People's Legislature" takes another bipolar mood swing in a complete 180 direction.

It's very hard to play a long game with any public service initiatives in NH because of the short attention-span theatre of each wildly swinging electoral cycle. You almost have to find a way to timebomb/moneybomb any major legislation or executive order so there's some cancellation penalty worse than leaving it alone the way every 2- & 4-year cycle ends up flipping the ideological bent of state gov't on its head. We've been down this road before with commuter rail commitments; they're only committed until the next regime has an instant-gratification excuse for raiding the budget or making an example out of it to prove a point. This is a deep structural flaw in NH politics that's affecting all manner of sustainability policy...because most things related to sustainability are long-game type efforts that take slow-and-steady momentum to advance. They hit the reboot switch way too often with their ruling factions to maintain any semblance of focus, and it's slowly killing them.


The best you can say here is that the Nashua poke is self-contained enough in scope that locking in the study now while the 2019-21 Legislative makeup projects to be a lot bluer (the "yin" of a NH politico-bipolar cycle) probably means the study will complete itself before the 2021-23 session turns everything back on its head (the "yang" of the cycle).
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Re: New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:23 pm

If this really is a policy change .... And it's hard not to see it that way ... This is an earth-shattering change ... Why? Because there was no one more prominent, more powerful and more in favor of highways in New Hampshire than the Sununus.

Change will take time but it appears that New Hampshire is about to have it's "Virginia Moment" ...
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Re: New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:35 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:Until the next election when "The People's Legislature" takes another bipolar mood swing in a complete 180 direction.


I disagree. New Hampshire has stuck with some policies such as taxation regardless of who is in power. If both the Republicans and the Democrats are on the same side there isn't anywhere for the pendulum to swing. Short of Sununu losing a primary I think we have got at least three years of stable policy ahead of us (with Sununu re-elected or without).
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Re: New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:21 pm

Let's not get carried away here. The entrails of the Sununu dynasty don't exactly rival the shadow the Kennedys still cast over Massachusetts politics umpteen generations in. Daddy left office 29 years ago. Yeah, he was a very influential governor...but the long arm of 1987's NHDOT Long-range Plan doesn't exactly exactly reach into the present of 2018. I-93 widening, the biggest transportation project the state has undertaken in modern times, got its first $1 of study funding during Jeanne Shaheen's governorship...a full decade after John Sr. left office, before either of the Sununu kids first got involved in politics. Out of 8 kids only ex-Sen. John Jr. and current-Gov. Chris have even followed in dad's footsteps holding any form of elected office or political lobbying position. John Jr.'s business background was robotics firms and didn't serve on a single committee even tangentially related to transportation in either the House or Senate. Chris's business background prior to first political foray on the Gov.'s Council in the 2010 election was real estate and ski resorts. The family's got money out the wazoo invested in real estate, telecom, and energy mining...but not in anything construction-related.

This is hardly a local analogue to Bud & Bill Shuster having a multi-generational stranglehold on shaping the ways people move around. If anything, the Sununus' records in both business and politics collectively show substantial indifference/neutrality to transpo issues as byproduct of smallish mindshare. I don't know where this myth-making came from that they were born asphalt titans; it wouldn't have made the family business holdings any direct or indirect money to make that a cause célèbre, so they by and large didn't.
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Re: New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby djlong » Tue Jan 23, 2018 12:26 pm

Another factor in his decision was that the state is going to ask for the federal government to pay for the study. No dollars from a NH budget will be allocated for it.

It may very well be that Sununu sees the opportunity to get a study that will show how much of a subsidy it will need. Then, even if it's a dollar a day, he can use it as a cudgel over the head of any rail supporter.
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Re: New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:52 pm

They already have the money for it (or so I understand) from a previously unused federal grant.
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Re: New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby Dick H » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:21 pm

I recall a situation where NNEPRA obtained a sizeable federal grant for PAR track upgrades
in the Exeter NH area. Even though not a single New Hampshire dollar was involved, the
NH Executive Council had to sign off on the grant. I do not recall the political breakdown
of the Council at that time, but the needed approval dragged on so long, that I think the
work was actually delayed by one construction season. One Councilor insisted the Council
could take the money and build a Park and Ride in the Nashua NH area. Seeing that there
will have to be a contract to some consulting firm to do the study, I see it as likely that
said contract will likely have to go before the Council. The current makeup of the
Council is three Republicans and two Democrats. Don't bet the farm on the outcome.

In recent months, there was a proposal for toll road increases to raise $38 million for
turnpike upgrades and widening of I-93 in the Concord area. That appeared to have the
votes on the Council to pass. However, the Governor nixed the idea. I would not be
surprised to see some proposal to shift the rail study fund to some highway project,
even if such a move is prohibited by the grant. Being a political year, some Councilor
grandstanding is not out of the question.
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Re: New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby b&m 1566 » Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:18 pm

And GE is in hot water being investigate by the Securities & Exchange Commission. Not really anything to do with NH commuter rail but if one connects the dots, this change in heart by the governor on commuter rail, is most likely tide to the GE bid.
GE might not be going anywhere now with this latest news, see article for more info on investigation.
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/24/general ... eview.html
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