roads

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Have you ever come to a familiar stretch of road, only to find that it's been transformed into something...alien? Something few people seem to understand? And makes fools of drivers everywhere? Well, you're not the only one who's frustrated.

This week on Word of Mouth, we're taking a spin around the intersection that people love to hate: roundabouts, which are replacing traffic lights and stop signs across the country. So, why are engineers so enamored of these things people love to hate? Or are they just misunderstood?

We'll also learn about the hidden ecosystem that is thriving on the not-so-deserted island of a local roundabout.

Via NH DOT Facebook page

As part of our continuing series Only in New Hampshire, we're answering questions posed by Granite Staters about their communities. Producer Hannah McCarthy answered this one:

Samer asks: "Why is there no exit 21 on I-93 North?"

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.

NHPR Flickr

It's been two years this week since New Hampshire's hands-free driving law banning the use of hand-held devices behind the wheel went into effect.

Major Matt Shapiro of the New Hampshire State Police was one of the leaders behind this law, aimed at getting drivers's eyes away from their phones and on the road.  Speaking on The Exchange, Shapiro says there is clear evidence it's working. 

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Jun 23, 2017
Sadie Colbert; USAF

The start of summer marks the one-hundred deadliest days of driving for teenagers, but young drivers aren't the only high risk people hitting the streets.  It's been two years since the Hands-Free driving law went into effect in New Hampshire, but how much has it improved the safety of our roads? Do we need to go further? 


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. 

flickr/bcgrote

House lawmakers met Tuesday to review a bill that seeks to provide $36 million for road and bridge repair in the state. 

There are six highway districts in New Hampshire – but not all are created equal. That was the argument from the Department of Transportation as they argued for a formula change in the way highway repair money is handed out.

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.

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.  


State Plans To Increase Road Paving Work In 2016

Apr 25, 2016
N.H. Department of Transportation Website

 About 700 miles of New Hampshire highways will be repaved or maintained this year, according to the state Department of Transportation.

It's the third straight year the DOT has increased its paving work.

flickr/bcgrote

 

As the state works on the next 10-year transportation plan, Gov. Maggie Hassan wants a long-awaited Interstate 93 exit in the congested areas of Londonderry and Derry to be a priority.

In a letter to town officials, Hassan said she plans to work with the Department of Transportation to look at ways to place a higher priority and accelerate the Exit 4A project as part of the I-93 expansion.

Bill Boynton, department spokesman, said Thursday the project is fully funded in the draft 10-year plan. He said the department is prepared to work with the towns to advance it.

Will Marlow via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/ccwMsS

Aphonia, flop sweat, mic fright. Call it what you will, stage fright can be crippling for some performers. On today’s show: a pianist delves into the history of performance anxiety, and her own struggle to overcome it

Then, between recent spikes in bicycle commuters and bike-friendly infrastructure, arguments over who owns the road are commonplace, but hardly new. We’ll take a look at the bicycle’s fraught history with pedestrians, automobiles and even horse-drawn carriages.  

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:

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

The idea of building a road is pretty straightforward – you build a path and let vehicles go on the path.

The reality is, of course, is way more complicated. How many lanes does the road need, and in which directions? Which signs are necessary – and which are distracting? Does the road make it too hard for vehicles to get through – or can it actually be too easy?

Flikr Creative Commons / Mortmer

According to a report by the Associate Press, Federal transportation dollars for New Hampshire road maintenance fell by more than %5 between 2008 and 2013. New Hampshire’s department of transportation spending has also fallen by more than 16% over roughly the same period.

This has meant delays to regular maintenance to secondary roads and bridges. And as these roadways deteriorate, the state will have to pay a higher price for reconstruction.

New Hampshire rates more than a third of state roads as in “poor” condition. And another 50 miles get added to the list each year.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

 

A 100-year-old bridge across the Merrimack River in Concord is closing sooner than expected due to safety concerns.

The Concord Monitor reports that the Sewalls Falls Bridge is shutting down Monday.

The bridge was slated to remain open until construction on its replacement began in the spring. But city officials decided to shut it down soon because of its deteriorating condition.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation is doing night paving work associated with a reconstruction project at the intersection of U.S. Route 1 and the U.S. Route 1 Bypass in Portsmouth.  The work is scheduled for Sunday through Thursday, Aug. 14, from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day.  The department says drivers traveling through the work zone during these time periods should anticipate traffic shifts and possible alternating traffic during overnight hours.  Uniformed officers and flaggers will guide motorists through the work zone.

Voters in Bedford will decide next week whether to pass a $30 million bond to pay for a backlog of road improvements.

rob.ewart / Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire Transportation Commissioner Christopher Clement has long pointed out that when it comes to our infrastructure, we’re not doing too well. Nearly 40% of the state’s roads are considered in poor condition, and almost one hundred and fifty bridges are red listed. Although Clement remains ‘revenue agnostic’ over where the funding comes from, others have a clear idea: raising the gas tax, which hasn’t been raised in New Hampshire in over twenty years.  Supporters say this would be the most comprehensive and fair solution.

Department of Safety Road Toll Bureau

A year after failing to agree on how to pay for a long list of road and bridge improvements, lawmakers will take another shot at bolstering the state’s chronically underfunded infrastructure this session.

Several bills are on the table, including one that would channel proceeds from a casino into the state’s highway fund.

DOT Commissioner, Chris Clement

Jan 13, 2014
nh.gov/dot

A lot of government officials like to speak up about what they’ve accomplished, but our guest today, Christopher Clement, has been speaking up for what he has not been able to do. For the last two and a half years, Clement has served as New Hampshire’s Transportation commissioner, and during that time he’s expressed his frustration over numbers that he says speak for themselves. The department is paving 200 fewer miles of roads each year, there are 145 “red-listed” bridges and nearly 40% of our roads are considered in poor condition.

N.H. Roads: How Did We Get Here?

Jan 6, 2014
NHDOT

As discussed on The Exchange this morning, the state legislature is gearing up once again for a debate about raising the gas tax. One big issue behind the debate is the deteriorating state of New Hampshire's roads.

Here is a look back at some reporting on the issue by Emily Corwin last spring, including this video explainer, and below, five reasons our roads are deteriorating.

    

On the Political Front, NHPR's Josh Rogers discusses discussion in the Statehouse about expanded gambling and lack of funds for highway projects, as well as Republican Bob Smith, a former U.S. Senator, declaring his candidacy for his old seat.

As lawmakers consider raising the state's gas tax, you may be wondering: are New Hampshire's roads getting worse? Why are they getting harder to pay for? And, does it really matter if we have a few more potholes?

NHPR's newsroom answers those questions in this animation:

Emily Corwin / NHPR

 We want you to send us pictures of the worst roads you have to drive on

Heavy Snow Causing Hazardous Roads

Mar 1, 2012

After a mild winter with little snow, New Hampshire is being hit with a late-season storm.

The National Weather Service says up to a foot of snow is expected in some areas by this evening.    

There are more than 200 closings, although most schools are closed due to winter break.

New Hampshire Department of Transportation says drivers should take extra precautions.

The state commissioner of transportation warns that if the federal government moves ahead with a plan to cut $40 million of New Hampshire’s yearly highway funds—the completion of I-93 will be placed on hold, indefinitely.  One portion that remains unfinished is exit 3 near Windham.

Many businesses there say the uncertainty of I-93’s future is hurting the local economy.