Bipartisan Bill Supported by Manchester Mayor Craig, Nashua Mayor Donchess, and New Hampshire Business for Rail Expansion
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and John Thune (R-SD) reintroduced the Railroad Rehabilitation and Financing Innovation Act, bipartisan legislation to improve the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan program, which is designed to provide direct loans to help develop passenger and short line railroads in New Hampshire and across the country. The bipartisan legislation would make it easier for businesses and communities to apply for this loan program and increase the flexibility of it. The loan could be used to help finance projects like the Capitol Corridor Project that would connect Manchester and Nashua to Boston via commuter rail.
“Infrastructure investments will be a critical part of our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Hassan. “Passenger rail has significant potential in New Hampshire, expanding options for commuters and helping our towns to thrive, and short line and smaller rail lines play a key role in our state’s economy. This bipartisan bill will improve financing options for both, and I look forward to continuing to work across the aisle to invest in infrastructure, create jobs, and grow our economy.”
“States like South Dakota rely on shortline railroads to transport agricultural products and other goods to market, and the RRIF program was originally designed to provide stable financing to small railroads for infrastructure investment,” said Senator Thune. “Unfortunately, shortlines are often unable to afford the time and expense associated with the current RRIF application process, discouraging them from using the program. This legislation makes necessary updates to RRIF so shortlines are better able to use the program as originally intended.”
“Investment in passenger rail will allow for the expansion of economic development opportunities, attract a younger workforce and increase accessibility to employment across New Hampshire, especially as we plan for the long-term recovery from COVID-19,” said Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig. “For years, Manchester residents and businesses have advocated for the expansion of commuter rail, and I want to thank Senator Hassan for her bipartisan push to make it easier to fund these initiatives in the Granite State.”
"The Capital Corridor Project will bring new life to New Hampshire,” said Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess. “For Nashua, it means a boost to our downtown, our economy and not to mention the positive impact on commuters coming and going from Nashua to Boston. Enacting the Railroad and Financing Innovation Act will bring us closer to making the Capital Corridor Project a reality and making New Hampshire an even better place to be. Thank you to Senator Hassan for your work to help make this happen.”
“As we look toward long-term economic recovery, a stronger passenger rail system in New Hampshire would help us address the state’s workforce shortage and boost economic opportunity by making it more appealing for Granite Staters to commute to major hubs, while also attracting high-skilled workers from the Boston area,” said E.J. Powers, New Hampshire Business for Rail Expansion spokesman. “The New Hampshire Business for Rail Expansion has long supported a passenger rail system connecting Boston to Nashua and Manchester and we’re proud to support Senator Hassan’s bill that would help bring this project closer to reality.”
Senator Hassan has long fought to bring passenger rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester, including signing legislation as Governor to help advance the study necessary to move the project forward. Senator Hassan recently met with President Joe Biden’s nominee to be Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, and during their meeting they discussed how the Transportation Department can better support passenger rail projects, such as the Capitol Corridor Project.