Price tag of $5 million estimated for Nashua train station

Preliminary figures indicate it may cost about $5.2 million to construct a new train station and its infrastructure in the Gate City.

“This is a baseline approach,” Dan Kelly of the Nashua Rail Transit Committee told an aldermanic panel recently.

In the fall of 2017, city leaders entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Boston Surface Railroad Company to create a plan to bring privately-funded passenger rail service to Nashua.

This approach is one of two ways the city is working to bring back commuter rail. It is also hoping the state’s Capitol Corridor rail option might be feasible if $4 million is placed into the state’s 10-year transportation plan for the development phase of that project.

Although city officials previously purchased property at 25 Crown St. for a park-and-ride facility and possible future train station, there is now a second potential parcel in town that could be considered.

According to Tim Cummings, economic development director, there is a 44-acre parcel in south Nashua — the former Dow Chemical Corp. site at 2 East Spit Brook Drive — that is under new ownership; The Landing at LLC recently purchased the property for $7.1 million, although tenants have not yet been planned.

Cummings told the Aldermanic Committee on Infrastructure that the new owner has expressed a desire to see some sort of train station in that area.

Whether the Crown Street or southern Nashua site was chosen, it would still cost about $5.2 million to construct a basic rail station and its infrastructure, said Kelly.

Cummings stressed that while the Capitol Corridor plan initially mentioned one or two possible stops in Nashua, the Boston Surface Railroad Company is only interested in one train stop in the city.

“I think we want to be creative and innovate as much as we can,” said Steve Michon, chairman of the Nashua Rail Transit Committee.

Financing for the station would be a challenge, he acknowledged, stressing the $5.2 million estimate is a rough prediction that could end up being less.

The city would want to pursue public-private partnerships on or around whichever site is viable, he said just days prior to Mayor Jim Donchess and Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig’s visit to Concord on Tuesday to advocate for rail.

“This can’t be a Nashua-only scenario,” said Michon, adding neighboring communities such as Hudson, Hollis, Merrimack and Litchfield would all be served by a future train station in Nashua.

He said the committee would like to explore the financing specifications, economic development opportunities, passenger access and advantages and challenges of the two sites.

Alderman Mary Ann Melizzi-Golja said the local traffic impacts associated with a future train station must be considered, explaining there is already a lot of traffic congestion in the region.

“The Daniel Webster Highway can’t handle anymore. Exit one can’t handle anymore,” she said, adding it is difficult to imagine motorists converging on Crown Street.

Alderman Richard Dowd said trying to get to a station in south Nashua would require that motorists travel through a lot of traffic, which is what the train concept is trying to avoid.

“Our goal is to bring passenger rail here,” said Cummings, adding the city has no exclusive agreement to pursue only the Capitol Corridor option or only the Boston Surface Railroad Company alternative.

Michon agreed, emphasizing that there is no commitment for the city to build a train station at this time.