Planes, trains, trucks and ships – open house will discuss NH priorities for shipping freight

  • The most common products hauled within New Hampshire as measured by weight – not dollar value. Courtesy—NH Department of Transportation

  • The monetary value of material shipped in New Hampshire. Courtesy of NH Department of Transportation

Monitor Staff
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

It’s not quite planes, trains and automobiles – more like planes, trains, trucks and ships – but New Hampshire is looking for suggestions about the best way to keep freight moving into, out of and through the state.

And it even includes complaints about too many tractor-trailers ruining your commute on the turnpike or interstate.

“That might be an indication of a bottleneck that needs to be looked at,” said William Rose, policy and planning manager for the Bureau of Planning at the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.

The DOT is holding an open house Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Department of Transportation building, Room 114, at 7 Hazen Drive in Concord. There will be presentations, interactive exercises, and officials on hand to answer questions and take suggestions. The DOT is looking to develop what is officially known as its 10-year inter-modal transportation plan – “inter-modal” meaning all different modes of transport including an emphasis on shifting goods between one mode and another. The plan is often thought of as a 10-year highway plan, perhaps because trucking is so important – it carries about a dozen times as much freight annually as rail, for example – but Rose said it is more far-reaching.

Consider the Manchester airport, which has been growing its logistics business – shipping packages and industrial material in and out of the state via UPS, FedEx and others.

“When it lands at the airport, or is being brought to the airport, how is it leaving and going? It’s good to have an understanding of this as we’re planning other projects,” Rose said.

The situation is similar with the port at Portsmouth, where trucks sometimes line up to get road salt, or oil from tankers. Is the problem bad enough to need fixing – and if so, how?

That’s the point of the planning process, which the open house is part of: To decide what projects should be built, when and in what order. A priority list is expected to be released next year for consideration by lawmakers.

“We’re seeking guidance by linking all the work that we’ve already done to say, if we’re talking about transportation supports the economy … where should we be investing the dollars?” Rose said.

Rose said the process was spurred by the federal FAST Act, for Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, which requires freight transportation plans to get national highway funding.

The state has created a state freight advisory committee, with representatives from shipping firms and sites and others who are in the industry. The open house is the next step, to gather more widespread input.

For more information, check the DOT website:  www.nh.gov/dot/org/projectdevelopment/planning/freight-plan/index.htm.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313, dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)