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New Hampshire infrastructure needs upgrades, money

  • The I-89 bridge over South Street in Bow. GEOFF FORESTER

  • I-93 bridge over Hall Street in Concord. GEOFF FORESTER

  • The bridge over Interstate 89 over South Street in Bow (above) near the junction with Interstate 93 South and a bridge over Hall Street in Concord on I-93 (below) are among the many red-listed bridges in New Hampshire. On Wednesday, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the state’s infrastructure a grade of C-minus. Monitor file photos



Associated Press
Wednesday, April 05, 2017

New Hampshire’s roads and bridges are suffering from years of neglect and require extensive funding to upkeep, according to results released Wednesday by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which gave the state’s infrastructure a grade of C-minus.

The state’s airports and energy systems scored best with a C-plus, while its ports, wastewater and storm water systems scored a D-plus.

The report follows a nationwide report last month that gave United States’ infrastructure a D-plus.

“New Hampshire’s infrastructure is living on borrowed time thanks to past generations’ investments,” said Logan Johnson, chairman of the Report Card for New Hampshire’s Infrastructure. “We’re not investing in the maintenance and modernization our infrastructure needs to support a thriving economy.”

Among the findings were that 492 of New Hampshire’s 3,848 bridges – nearly 13 percent – were structurally deficient and that risk was increasing for dams. It also concluded that “years of inattention” have resulted in substandard conditions at many of the state’s ports and that extensive flooding will happen unless the state changes its approach to managing storm water.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen noted that the nationwide report card found that nearly 4 in 10 bridges are 50 years or older. On Wednesday, she reintroduced a bill in the Senate that aims to address 56,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country, calling the condition of New Hampshire’s bridges “unacceptable.”

Victoria F. Sheehan, the state’s transportation commissioner, said she was hopeful the renewed attention might inspire funding. She said the grades are “in line with what we have been trying to explain to the Legislature and the public over the last several years.”

“Ultimately, we have to spend more if the public’s expectations are for better services and facilities,” she said.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has pledged to invest tens of millions in repairing roads, bridges and schools and the Legislature has included money for infrastructure in its two-year, $11.9 billion spending plan. That budget is now in doubt after it was defeated Wednesday.

Along with calling for consistent policy and funding sources, the report recommends the state pursue “more locally sourced funding.”

It also recommends fully funding the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, identifying “dependable, long-term sources of funding” for the cleanup of contaminated sites, developing a master plan for the Pease Development Authority’s Division of Ports and Harbors and considering a toll increase to help finance major turnpike projects.