Infrastructure

Petr Kratochvil / Wikimedia Commons

Research from University of New Hampshire released last week, shows that more than 60 percent of New Hampshire residents would support an increase to the state gas tax to maintain infrastructure. But most people have no idea what the gas tax is now.

Larry Hamilton is one of the researchers and a professor of sociology at UNH. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with him about the report.

What is the current gas tax? Since most of the people you talked to had no idea.

Stanley Zimny via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/KsGVQ

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation is deciding whether to proceed with the Conway Bypass, while struggling with a lack of funds to complete the project.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with William Cass, the Assistant Commissioner and Chief Engineer for the department on the future of the project.


Steve Hooper; The Keene Sentinal

Hurricane Harvey slammed the Gulf Coast last week, and it got us thinking: How ready is New Hampshire for major storms, hurricanes, and floods?

Perry Plummer, Director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the New Hampshire Department of Safety, says the state has plenty of work to do to ensure our infrastructure can handle the kind of extreme weather events that are becoming increasingly common.

"We know more water is coming; we’re going to get these types of rain storms," Plummer said on The Exchange. "Obviously, I don’t think we’ll get a Harvey in New Hampshire, but we are going to get 10 and 15 inches of rain, and that’s going to challenge our infrastructure. We need to rebuild our infrastructure to protect our residents, protect our critical infrastructure." 

Courtesy of the DOT

Officials at the Department of Transportation are fast-tracking inspections on 16 of the state’s “red listed” bridges. That's after a piece of concrete fell off one of the bridges over I-93 in Derry on Monday.

images-of-new-hampshire-history.com

The Northern Border Regional Commission has awarded more than $2.2 million in federal funds to 13 development projects across New Hampshire.

The projects range from a septic wastewater treatment station in Whitefield to parking in Lancaster to improve access to an island nature area.

The New Hampshire congressional delegation on Friday announced the funding, made available after Congress secured a $5 million increase in funding.

The border commission is a federal-state partnership.

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

New Hampshire towns and cities are getting $30 million for road and bridge improvements under an infrastructure bill signed by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.

The governor's office on Monday announced the amount of money each community will receive in infrastructure grants. The grants range from just under $1,800 for Hart's Location to more than $1.7 million for Manchester. The average grant is $128,205.

Sununu says the money is a key first step in rebuilding the state's infrastructure and will allow communities to provide tax relief.

Adam Fagen/Flickr

Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is getting $3.5 million in federal funds to reconstruct and relocate several taxiways.

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The New Hampshire Department of Transportation and its counterpart in Vermont are considering repairs to a bridge between the two states that’s been closed since 2009. The Vilas Bridge was built in 1930 and stretches over the Connecticut River between North Walpole, N.H. and Bellows Falls, Vt.

The Otter, Flickr

By the end of this century, scientists predict the ocean on New Hampshire’s coast will rise anywhere between 4 and 6.5 feet above where it is today—a consequence of climate change. But when the sea rises, groundwater rises to keep up. That would spell trouble for roadways, even roads inland from the ocean, according to a new study from UNH.

Wikimedia Commons

The Exchange discussed New Hampshire's infrastructure issues over a series of shows this year. The American Society of Civil Engineers released their 2017 report card in March, giving New Hampshire a C- overall, with further grades for specific categories, including roads, dams, and drinking water.

Read on for highlights and links to each show, and also for links to additional coverage of New Hampshire's infrastructure. 

US EPA

The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave the Granite State a C-minus on its 2017 report card...But aging systems, drought, and such contaminants as PFOAs raise questions about how best to repair our drinking water systems, and how to afford it. 


NHPR/Hannah McCarthy

New Hampshire’s deteriorating roads and bridges - and how to invest in them - are major questions for lawmakers this year. But whatever the funding, one critical piece of the state’s infrastructure – private dams – likely won’t see a penny.  

www.infrastructurereportcard.org

The American Society of Civil Engineers has released their 2017 report card on New Hampshire’s infrastructure -- and the state is far from the honor roll.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire Senate has passed a measure to send nearly $37 million to cities and towns to repair roads and bridges.

The bill passed unanimously. Gov. Chris Sununu included a similar proposal in his budget plan. 

Senator Lou D’Allesandro told his colleagues on the floor Thursday it’s time the state helped local communities with their building projects. 

Broadband Development in the Granite State

Mar 14, 2017
Tony Webster

Broadband, which connects homes, businesses, and schools to high speed internet, has been developing throughout the state, including in rural areas for several years. Which areas are still lacking access, and why? What is the importance of providing proper internet access to schools and places where businesses will develop? We'll delve into how broadband infrastructure works, and where it is working, in New Hampshire.


Fred McNeill

Too often, says civil engineer Fred McNeill, it takes a disaster – sinkholes swallowing cars or dam bursts flooding communities -- to get the attention of officials and others who fund the underpinnings of wastewater treatment and dam infrastructure.  

Amy Quinton; NHPR

Officials overseeing the state’s dams and wastewater treatment plants say they’re heartened by calls for more investment in infrastructure by Governor Sununu and President Trump.

But they're also alarmed by the Trump Administration’s proposed cuts to the EPA.

Speaking on The Exchange, Fred McNeill, Chief Engineer at Manchester’s Environmental Protection Division, says the EPA funds several state positions that help maintain and improve the city’s one thousand miles of underground water infrastructure.  McNeill is concerned these jobs may now be eliminated.

Kieth Shields; NHPR

A continuation of our series on New Hampshire infrastructure: wastewater and dam structures are old, crumbling, and vulnerable to severe weather. Intense storms, flooding, and drought have all contributed to the damage, and many of our dams and underground pipes are over 100 years old. We'll discuss the challenges with tackling this problem, including lack of funding, and stricter regulation requirements.


Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

Gov. Chris Sununu pledged to invest millions of dollars in repairing roads, bridges and schools in his budget address.

But he's light on specifics when it comes to how the estimated $84 million would be doled out, leaving towns, cities and school districts wondering which potholes will be filled, classrooms remodeled and bridges rebuilt.

New Hampshire's Roads and Bridges

Feb 21, 2017
NHPR

Transportation infrastructure is a perennial issue in the Granite State:  from aging bridges to annoying potholes to highways and byways in need of repair. Now, Governor Sununu's budget includes an Infrastructure Revitalization Fund that sends money to communities to address this. And President Trump has promised a major effort as well.  


Some Vermont officials unhappy over a standstill with New Hampshire over a long-closed, deteriorating bridge connecting both states are suggesting that a federal judge step in to fix things.

Closed since 2009, the 86-year-old Vilas Bridge over the Connecticut River was built between Walpole, New Hampshire, and Bellows Falls, Vermont.

The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance said it's the last remaining concrete arch bridge of its type in the state, and put it on its annual list of structures to save in 2012.

Muffet / Flickr Creative Commons

A malfunction during a lift opening on the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in Portsmouth was to blame for a 2-hour closure of the bridge that passes over the Piscataqua River into Maine.

State Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton tells The Portsmouth Herald that a span lock on the bridge malfunctioned Wednesday during a 5 p.m. lift opening. Travelers along the U.S. Route 1 Bypass encountered bridge gates that remained closed and a traffic light that refused to turn green.

Gloconda Beekman / Flickr/CC

After the Flint, Michigan water crisis, many around the country started taking a closer look their own water systems. And with a recent contamination scare in southern New Hampshire by the chemical PFOA  - the concerns have become local.  We'll look at the state's sources for drinking water, and the challenges to delivering it free from contaminants.

Allegra Boverman, NHPR

A group of New Hampshire mayors and mayors-elect rallied around Hillary Clinton’s newly released infrastructure plan Monday, expressing optimism that the Democratic presidential candidate’s proposals will provide a long-awaited boost to local development.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

 

Officials say funding is in place for the long-awaited demolition and replacement of Concord's 100-year-old Sewalls Falls Bridge.

The Concord Monitor reports City Manager Tom Aspell and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation came to an agreement over stalled funding for the project Monday. The deal will allow Concord to build the new bridge and eventually be reimbursed as promised by the federal government.

A grant from the federal Highway Trust Fund will pay $10 million. That's 80 percent of the cost. The city will pay the remaining 20 percent.

Travis Estell / Flickr/cc

Recent proposed cuts to New Hampshire's transportation budget caused outrage in the Statehouse, and even a Republican-backed effort to raise the gas tax. Meanwhile, other states are also struggling to keep up with road and bridge repair, with some trying new ways to pay for infrastructure.

Guests:

Alex1961 via Flickr CC

New Hampshire transportation officials say a $41 million budget cut proposed by House budget writers would have dire consequences on public safety and result in more than 300 layoffs.

As voters head to Town Meetings on Tuesday one of the major issues in the North Country will be infrastructure repairs. That’s an issue Kevin McKinnon, who runs Colebrook’s water department, knows all too well...

A few years ago McKinnon was looking at a hydrant that had recently been removed from Main Street.

He was chipping through decades of paint to get to a part when a date began to emerge: 1884.

“I was a little shocked.”

 It was a clear reminder that Colebrook’s system was installed around 1880.

Liz West via Flickr CC

A ceremony is scheduled to mark the start of construction at an aging bridge that connects New Hampshire and Maine.

The 70-year-old Sarah Mildred Long Bridge connects Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Kittery, Maine. It is rated structurally deficient.

On Monday at 10 a.m., dignitaries from both states are gathering at the Kittery Community Center at Frisbee Common to mark the official start of the project. Members of the public will have a chance to sign a commemorative construction trestle that will be installed on the project later in the week.

Bev Norton via Flickr CC

Outgoing Department of Transportation Commissioner Chris Clement says fixing a long-standing deficit in the state's highway fund should be a critical priority for lawmakers this session in order to keep roads and bridges safe for drivers.

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