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My Turn: Let’s fix the roads and support buses (not trains)

Re “Trains? No way! Gas tax? Maybe . . .” (Sunday Monitor Viewpoints, Jan. 20):

Congratulations to Grant Bosse on his column about transportation. He has raised several important points that need to be considered. Raising the gas tax has been considered for at least the past 15 years as a source from which to fund transportation and transportation infrastructure.

Surface infrastructure on many state roads is in need of improvement. The list of red-lined bridges and overpasses has grown significantly over the past several years, and general maintenance of state roads requires significant expenditure of state capital.

Heavy rail and a return to the golden age of railroads is a dream of a few diehard supporters throughout the state. However, New Hampshire has neither the population density nor the willingness to abandon the private automobile to financially support a passenger transportation rail system should it be built. This does not even consider where the funding would come from for the local match required to access federal funds should they be available.

As Bosse states, the gas tax in New Hampshire has not been raised since 1991. Although raising taxes in any form is not popular, it is sometimes necessary to assure basic needs are met. I urge the governor and Legislature, while considering the need for increased revenue to meet this challenge, to also take into consideration the fact that public transit infrastructure has also been greatly ignored over the past decade – specifically bus operations, which are so vital to the health, well-being and participation in community life for so many of our citizens. Evidence of that can be found by looking at the lack of state funding in past budgets.

Without money from the state that is used as matching funds to access federal dollars available for public transportation, some fixed route and senior transportation providers currently struggling to maintain operations through private donations, fund-raisers and in a very few instances town support services will shrink.

And current users will be left without access to the vital services that currently allow them to get to work, medical care providers and community activities.

(Mickey McIver lives in Danbury.)

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