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State House Memo: Has it come to this? Taking financial help from Vt.?

Marjorie Porter

Marjorie Porter

Gary and I had to drive to Massachusetts on New Year’s Day. The shortest route to our destination was all on well-traveled state highways: Route 202 West to Route 119 South to Route 31 South in Massachusetts. We had had a snowstorm a day or so before, but the snow had stopped at least 30 hours before we had to leave – certainly long enough for the roads to be cleared, or so we thought.

But as we made our way through Hillsboro and Antrim, and down on through Peterborough to Rindge, we found the roads still quite snow covered – especially in the town centers.

The intersection of Routes 202 and 119 was especially rough. Cars were swerving making the turn. And although there was clear pavement in the center of the lane we were driving on Route 119, the center of the road was still covered with white.

Eventually, though, the road began to improve. Dry pavement, and no snow in between lanes.

“Good! It must be warming up!” I said to Gary.

“Nope. We just crossed the Massachusetts line,” he replied.

The roads were mostly clear and dry the rest of the way.

New Hampshire Transportation Commissioner Christopher Clement has been telling us for months that he can’t get the job done right without more money. The funds for snow-plowing have been cut.

The Vilas Bridge, which crosses the Connecticut River and connects Walpole with Bellows Falls, Vt., has been closed since March 2009. New Hampshire officials closed it to pedestrians and vehicles because it failed its safety inspection. New Hampshire owns 93 percent of the bridge, Vermont the other 7 percent. According to a Jan. 11 article in The Keene Sentinel, businesses in Bellows Falls have reported a 30 percent decline in commerce since the bridge closed. I am sure the closure has had a negative impact in Walpole as well.

Vermont is worried. It likes to support its downtowns and restore historic bridges. It’s tired of waiting for New Hampshire to do something. So last week the Vermont Agency of Transportation offered to pay for the entire repair of the Vilas. According to Sue Mintner, deputy secretary for the Vermont AOT, they are “essentially putting out a loan that would be paid back over time through the rehabilitation of other bridges.”

Kind of embarrassing, isn’t it? Like having your neighbor send his son to cut your lawn because your yard is becoming an eyesore.

New Hampshire is the fourth wealthiest state in the country. You’d think we’d be able to afford to take care of our roads and bridges without needing a handout from Vermont. Are we becoming a “welfare state”? But maybe we’re like Rep. Neal Kurk’s yacht-owning Medicaid recipients. Rich, but we’d rather take advantage. And don’t you ever mention the word “tax.”

(State Rep. Marjorie Porter is a Democrat from Hillsboro.)

Legacy Comments10

It is the "New Hampshire Way" isn't it? This "NH Advantage" is really about keeping more money in the affluents pocket. Vermont is trying to fix a problem that we own statewide, isn't it time we anted up?

No, it is about keeping more money in the pockets of ALL NH residents instead of having the hands of do gooders in our wallets.

I really don't think it's a "do gooders issue" for the few wallets we choose to protect within our tax structure, it's more like doing what's best for all isn't it? Why are our neighbors paying for our selfishness to correct a safety hazard that's our shared responsibility? Why isn't there a current plan and budget to fix those road/bridge hazards? Why do we need to have "red ears" over our neighbors offer to do our work/responsibilities for both of us?

CHALLENGE: post the NH state budget 10 years ago in 2004 and post todays NH 2014 state budget. After your heart attack..... post if you think NH govt has gotten 100% better in 10 years, 50% better...etc. The difference between the two budgets shows you the skewed democrats policies. Post 1 of 12 on 1/20

I CHALLENGE any of the LIDV to post here what the NH budget was 10 years ago and what the budget is today. When you recover from your heart attack tell us if you think NH Govt has gotten 100% better , 50% better, 10% better in 10 years. Ya might also want to correlate the massive budget increase to population growth. After doing your homework you can see the priorities of democrats. The author, State Rep. Marjorie Porter (Democrat from Hillsboro) , could have provided that info if she wanted to. I wonder why she didnt?

Hunter_Dan, you have it wrong. We have no intent of paying our own bills when we can figure out a way to squeeze the money out of our neighbors. Makes us feel right smart. Socialists, communists, muslims, whatever, if you want to pay to fix our bridges, have at it.

And that right there is reason #1 why Vermonters are better than granite-heads. Oh and by the way - you may have more granite, but Vermont has better quality granite.

If the socialists in Vermont want to fix the bridge, let them. Why would anyone in NH want to go to Vermont to buy anything??? Bottle bill, $ale$ tax.......As far as the plowing quality goes, Clement took a page from the School Board's handbook. When threatened with a financial short fall, cancel the popular programs that people want, don't cut back on things folks don't care about, so you can make it work,

And what would those "popular programs" be, and the " things folks don't care about", regarding "the School Board?" Apparently you think that education means giving the kids what they want, not what they need.

Column of the year so far!!!! As a native Vermonter this makes me feel ten feet tall. Take that all you tea-party/free-state/libertarians. How does it feel to have "liberal, progressive, socialist" Vermont - a state filled with a bunch of "dope-smoking hippies looking for handouts" - being the grownup in the relationship? Looks like "proud, tough, independent, financially-responsible" New Hampshire has a thing or two to learn from their neighbor to the west. Oh, and VT. has much better soil for growing things, too. And better syrup.

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