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.
Granite State motorists are driving more fuel-efficient vehicles, which means they’re buying less gas. Motorists purchased almost 60 million fewer gallons of gas in 2012 than they did in 2005. That translated into an $11 million decrease in revenue.
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.
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.
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:
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.