While all eyes were on the House rollback of women’s rights yesterday, the state’s Executive Council was rejecting a $3.2 million federal grant to help pay for a feasibility study for a commuter rail line between Boston and Concord.
The federal grant, which had strong bipartisan support from Gov. Lynch, Nashua officials and business leaders, would have funded most of the $3.6 million feasibility study. The remainder would have come from private donors and state-backed bonds in a previous public works budget.
Councilors Wheeler, Sununu and St. Hilaire voted against accepting the grant. Colin Van Ostern, who is running against St. Hilaire for the District Two council seat, accused the council of putting “their personal anti-government zeal ahead of a practical bipartisan solution — this time, one that would have cut commuting costs and helped economic development across the Greater Concord area.”
Former state senator Peter Burling, the past chairman of a rail transit authority that has pushed for the project, was upset by the vote. The refusal to use federal money to simply study the issue left him “breathless with incredulity,” and the funding will likely now be used by another state, he said.
“It felt like foolishness,” he said. “It felt like ignorance triumphing over inquiry.”
“The action by three executive councilors, who decided based on dogma instead of information, is an overt insult to the nonpartisan donors of the original effort,” he said.