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State House Memo: We need a 21st-century transportation network

Every two years the Executive Council updates the state’s 10-year transportation plan, structuring funding for roads, bridges, airports, buses and rail for the next decade. As the council holds more than two dozen hearings across the state to solicit public input, two facts are becoming abundantly clear: New Hampshire’s transportation network is in need of repair and expansion, and there’s not enough money available to get the job done.

The public has done an excellent job identifying the state’s substantial transportation needs. In Londonderry, I heard about the need to finish Interstate 93 and develop Pettengill Road south of Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. In Hooksett, residents shared important traffic and safety concerns on major state roads going through town. In Manchester, I heard about the need to reconstruct Exits 6 and 7 on Interstate 293 and for the state to invest more in mass transit. There’s widespread concern about delays to the Route 101 widening project in Bedford. In Loudon, residents made a compelling case for safety upgrades on the Route 106 corridor and the expansion of the Bow-Concord stretch of I-93.

Statewide, there are nearly 500 red-list bridges and 5,000 miles of state roadway to repair and maintain, not to mention a backlog of important new road projects that are languishing on the shelf.

Some communities are underserved by transit, and the overall network lacks connectivity for many people and economic centers.

Transportation projects are economic generators, infusing our state with much-needed construction jobs and lasting economic, public safety and quality-of-life benefits.

The I-93 widening project, currently under way from Windham to the Massachusetts border, is the state’s most critical one. This artery is a lifeline for our economy, but the state is still $250 million short of completing the project. If left unfinished, an inadequate I-93 will be a detriment to New Hampshire motorists and our economic fortunes.

Finding money for new projects is particularly challenging because of years of flat federal transportation aid and the shrinking purchasing power of our state’s gas tax.

Unless something changes, we will not have the capacity to look far beyond I-93 and basic maintenance over the next decade.

Guided by metrics on condition, safety, mobility and economic impact, the council is working with the Department of Transportation to finalize a plan that prioritizes our many local, regional and statewide needs. This will have to be done within the confines of current funding realities and will be sent to the governor and Legislature for their consideration next year. At that point, it will be up to legislative leaders to have a full discussion about whether the 10-year plan is adequate in terms of its breadth and scale.

If they have listened to what the public has said at the Executive Council’s hearings and the data provided by DOT, they will know that we run the risk of shortchanging communities and our future if we do not expand the scope of this plan.

New Hampshire must develop a 21st-century, intermodal system of transportation that connects our people and our economy. Currently, we are struggling to simply patch up the one we inherited from last century. This 10-year plan should not be a catalog of projects that will never be initiated; it must be a road map for long-term success.

If the legislative and executive branches can set aside ideology and assemble a robust and responsible plan, I’m confident New Hampshire’s future as a place to live, work, and do business will be better than ever.

(Executive Councilor Chris Pappas is a Democrat from Manchester. His district includes the local communities of Allenstown, Bow, Chichester, Deerfield, Epsom, Hooksett, Loudon, Northwood, Pembroke, and Pittsfield.)

Legacy Comments19's what we do..add up all your awesome wish list for NH 21st-century transportation network ....cost it out, and then send all the working driving population of NH the bill, and see how they like it. Make it like a credit card with monthly installments. If you want it, pay for it.

Actually, that is what they do. It's called the property tax in NH. Except you don't get to choose not to use it, just pay for it. How about they set up tolls with ez-pass and if you choose to use the road (like Rt.93) then you pay for it (each time). Rail roads - if you use them pay the ticket price to build/run it. Don't like the cost then don't buy the ticket. Business says it is cheaper to ship on rails, will we see a price drop if tax dollars are used, or does that just go as a business subsidy and the extra profit goes in the business owners pocket.????

Trains are hideous ways to travel. It is uncomfortable, plagued with delays and in just the last year there have been a dozen fatal train accidents. Choo-choo------all progressives a-b-o-a-r-d! Windmills, railroads and what next? Horse and buggies? We could bring back the buggy whip.....we could save energy if we returned to candles.....on Concord main street we could have the butcher, the baker and the candle stick maker....along with the windmill repair shop and the railroad tie yard and rail making factory. Railroads.....oh of the 19th century and the politics of Marx. I wish it was Groucho but unfortunately it is Karl.

For Jim....BIG Govt use to run a massive money losing freight Train operation called CONRAIL. It was sold to a private concern and Today........... it is a very successful private company called CSX. Could you tell us where you got the notion that BIG Govt is Good at anything?

So we spent about $4 trillion on welfare in the last few years, ran $$trillion dollar deficits, the labor participation rate..alltime low..90 million not working..spent a billion on a website that does not work...Yeah..we can do all that and give you a 21st-century transportation network...We're magic!

GWTW, I think I found the answer that you're looking for through NHPR's website. See the link below. gdn1, I'm sure you see cops on the major highways but not 'every construction site'. They're probably out there to get people to slow down. But do you realize toll money only goes to construction and maintenance of roads that have the name Turnpike in it and not to the other 4000+ miles of state highway.

Start by doubling the tolls. We'd still be the least expensive in all of New England. GWTW, it's called inflation. 1 million spent on hot top will pave about 60% of what that million would pave a decade ago. The cost of road materials has skyrocketed. The cost of labor goes up and up. Every construction site now has at least 1 cop out there, sometimes several, who are all on OT all day long, while they do little more than stand by while the blue lights on their cruisers flash. Taken collectively, how much money has this alone added to the annual bill for highway construction in NH? In America? All the while, we have our legislature, which just 2-3 years ago argued for 8 or 9 months over raising the tolls by a quarter. Asking where does all the money go sure tells me you aren't paying attention.

Not paying attention????

But was the stimulus not the panacea to all of this? I agree with your suggestion to raise the tolls, and place a toll booth on the border with Massachusetts on 93. But, let's spend every dime collected ONLY on the highways.

Leave everything alone for just 2 years - do nothing - raise no taxes LEAVE US ALONE - simply maintain what you have. You guys are daily stressing the systems & the people - STOP and TAKE a NAP

not enough money for transportation projects??? How come??? where is the money going???

NH's gas tax was last raised in 1991. Since then the value of the dollar has nearly been cut in half due to inflation. Since 1991 vehicle miles driven has also increased by almost 50%. In other words, we are pounding our roads and bridges almost 50% more and only spending a little more than half the money we did in 1991.

it is Bush's fault

and Dick Cheney and the Koch Brothers were involved in this as well as every wealthy Republican.......such a conspiracy and it is all the fault of Republicans.

Yup, let's increase taxes and keep the highways engineers busy. How much more can people pay and pay and pay? I thought that the stimulus was going to fix all of those issues? Ooops, I guess that Obama lied.......again.

About $27 billion of the $800 billion stimulus was used for road and bridge construction. Look it up. Engineering costs account for less than 10% of total project costs. Most of it goes to general contractors, paving contractors, concrete suppliers, aggregate suppliers, steel suppliers, iron workers, truck drivers, carpenters, laborers, pipe layers…you know, the blue collar middle class that is supposed to be the backbone of this country. These folks have been hit particularly hard during the recession. The government can pay these people unemployment compensation to do nothing or they can put them to work building. And after the project is finished, we have a piece of infrastructure that can be used by everyone for the next 50+ years. The alternative is to just let it all crumble. Pretty short-sighted if you ask me.

Don't confuse the Carpers with facts. They have opinions that take precedence over reality.


says the self proclaimed socialist

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