Letter: Raise the tolls

Wednesday, December 06, 2017
Raise the tolls

Executive Councilor Russell Prescott is to be commended for his courage in bringing forth the toll increase. He listened to the testimony during the recent 10-Year Highway Plan public meetings and requested the Department of Transportation to prepare a proposal to address the road and bridge needs on the Turnpike System.

I retired in 2003 as the NHDOT assistant commissioner after 30 years of service. It was frustrating to experience the decreasing availability of funding (federal and state) to keep our roads and bridges in the good shape our residents and visitors deserve. The 10-Year Highway Plan initiated by Gov. John Sununu in 1985 has done a good job in helping our decision-makers prioritize the shrinking funds to the growing list of projects. However, it took ridiculously long (20 years) for the state gas tax to finally be increased a couple of years ago. Meanwhile, projects like the Interstate 93 widening from Salem to Manchester have taken forever, it seems, to be completed. (In fact, that project is still not done although the end is in sight.)

If you are tired of waiting or creeping along nervously in traffic on I-93 in Concord during rush hours and the recreational traffic peaks, you should hope that the toll increase passes at the Governor and Council table. An additional lane is needed and the project could be advanced by several years if the toll increase is approved. By the way, for all E-ZPass users, the proposed toll increase is lowered from 50 cents to 35 cents.

There has been the usual howl of protest from the trucking industry about the toll proposal. We need to be reminded that they pass along their tolls to their customers as a normal cost of doing business and their vehicles do the most wear and tear damage to the roads and bridges on a daily basis. Trucks are very important to our economy and they depend on a safe and efficient highway system to help them meet their mission. Their support would be appreciated.