New Hampshire's Infrastructure

Some Facts About New Hampshire’s Infrastructure:

New Hampshire has approximately 17,000 miles of state and town roads, turnpikes and interstate highways. There are 3,795 bridges in the state. As of 2010, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation plowed more than 800 lane miles of roads and put down 180,000 tons of salt for snow and ice control annually.

The state was given a “C” grade by the American Society of Civil Engineers for the condition of its roads and bridges. New Hampshire was rated among the worst in the country for the poor condition of its bridges by Transportation For America. On average, bridges are older in New Hampshire than those in the rest of the country.  There are hundreds of bridges on the so-called “red list,” which means that the bridges have major structural problems and need to be repaired or replaced.

The state also has a poor record when it comes to public transportation. New Hampshire has no comprehensive rail system and is rated 42nd in terms of investment in public transportation according to the State Department of Transportation.

The majority of New Hampshire’s infrastructure funding comes from vehicle registration fees and gas taxes. The state takes out fewer bond loans than other states and considers its funding a “pay as you go” system.  The gas tax, the lowest in New England, has not been raised since 1991. The 2011 Legislature did away with a motor vehicle fee increase.  That change has meant more $30 million a year in cuts to DOT.

The $800 million expansion of I-93 from Salem to Manchester began in 2006, but has been delayed several times because of a lack of funding. Supporters of the expansion say it will update one of the country’s most congested highways and bring needed tourism revenue to the more isolated and less economically robust northern part of the state. Traffic on I-93 has increased 600 percent since the highway was built in the 1960s and approximately 80,000 cars now drive on it each day.

Summary provided by StateImpact NH

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.

sign on Interstate 89
Doug Kerr via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/MJSPh

 The state Department of Transportation is set to conduct bridge repairs this week on Interstate 89 in Sutton.

The bridge runs northbound over New Hampshire Route 114, just south of exit 11.

Doug Gosling of the Bridge Maintenance Bureau says the work is routine but necessary. “The bridge has a back wall that is rotten down a ways," he says. "We have to basically close the road down to one lane as we repair one half of the back wall, and then switch traffic over to the other half of the road so we can repair the other half.”

Last week the Manchester Mayor of Board and Aldermen voted to require that drivers for the ride-booking service Uber comply with the city’s taxi ordinances or stop operating.

Brady Carlson / NHPR

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas says the city's police chief will meet this week with Uber representatives to review the company's policies on vetting drivers. That could mean the city and the ride-booking company could find a compromise over Uber's presence in Manchester.

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:

NHPR Staff

 

House budget writers are preparing to vote on whether to cut millions of dollars from the Department of Transportation's budget, forcing layoffs and a decline in road maintenance.

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?

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.

Colin Dunn via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/7GCv8P

The word vitamin has only been around for just over 100 years. But today vitamins are a $36 billion dollar-a-year industry. On today’s show, we’ll look at the history and science behind a largely unregulated market. Plus, a new hotline for emotionally distressed teens aims to help teens by communicating in a space where they feel comfortable – via text message.     

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

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.

George Lane / Flickr/CC

A new report finds that extending train service from Boston to Manchester could provide big benefits: more jobs, higher property values, and enhancing the state’s overall attractiveness. Still, skeptics doubt the numbers, both in terms of the number of people who would get on board and how much money it would cost.

GUESTS:

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.

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.

Flicker CC

The southern tier of the state is getting its first dusting of snow of the winter season this morning. As it does, the first question on the minds of many is probably “how is the driving?”

We have never been better at keeping roads clear during snow-storms, but now for environmental and budgetary reasons the question is how to use less salt.

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  Crews on Manchester’s west side are working Friday to repair the damage after a 16 inch water main let go Thursday night. The burst pipe led to the evacuation of nearly two-dozen residents.

Repairs to the water main wrapped up around seven Friday morning.

But City Water Works Director David Paris says they’re pressure testing the pipe before bringing it back to full force. Crews are now spending Friday removing chunks of asphalt and refilling the hole left behind by about one million gallons of water that flowed down city streets.

New Hampshire’s Department of Transportation has suspended the installation of a potentially faulty guardrail end unit, but officials say they’re waiting for more information before removing the 1,300 units already installed.

Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton says the state has been installing the Trinity ET-Plus pieces for nearly a decade.

“These are devices that are meant to absorb energy and basically give and have the guard rail attached it to collapse and veer away from it if the end unit is hit.”

Voters in the town of Columbia, New Hampshire, will be asked to approve nearly $200,000 in bonds to install a bridge before winter.

A combination of heavy rain, snowmelt and mountain runoff caused brooks and streams to flood in the spring. The bridge on Meridan Hill Road was washed out, temporarily stranding 13 families who live above the bridge.

The Caledonian Record reports a temporary bridge was installed, but selectmen say that bridge will be dangerous to maintain and cross in the winter.

Commuting To Boston: The Daily Exodus Out Of N.H.

Sep 17, 2014
Bricky Cement / Flickr/CC

More than eighty-thousand Granite Staters travel to the Bay State for work, a fact that’s been cited as both an economic boon and drawback for New Hampshire. While both views could be valid, there are other impacts too: work-life balance and community involvement can take a hit when people spend a long time commuting.

GUESTS:

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.

New Hampshire drivers can once again get new vanity plates, now that the state's Division of Motor Vehicles has put into place a new rule guiding which plates it will reject.

The state had put a temporary halt on issuing vanity plates, following a state Supreme Court ruling in May found the DMV’s old rule barring plates that may be offensive was too vague.

The new rule is more specific.

For example, the state will now reject vanity plates that contain profanity, references to violence, or illegal activity.

Michael Brindley / NHPR

  Visitors coming to New Hampshire this Fourth of July weekend via interstate 93 likely noticed the redevelopment of the new rest-stop facilities in Hooksett is moving quickly. According to the Department of Transportation, construction at the rest-area is about three to four months ahead of schedule.

Via Flickr CC

As you're paying more at the pump today, you may be wondering where all that extra money is going.

New Hampshire's 4.2 cent increase to the state's gas tax goes into effect July 1.

The increase, the first since 1991, is expected to generate an additional $32 million annually for the state's Department of Transportation.

The legislation that enacted the increase mandates that 42 percent of that money go towards bonding for the widening of Interstate 93.

A North County town is expected to get a $278,000 grant to make repairs to a broken water main suspended from a historic covered bridge across the Ammonoosuc River.  The 100-year-old cast iron pipe suspended on the underbelly of the Northumberland Covered Bridge feeds wells and storage tanks. It broke in April, and only temporary fixes have been made.  The New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority approved an Emergency Community Development Block Grant for the repairs in Northumberland.  The solution requires drilling to install 300-plus feet of new pipe beneath the riverbed.

The town of Salem, New Hampshire, is dealing with its third water main break affecting Route 28 in a month.

The problem is slowing down Morning morning traffic, and is expected to affect the evening commute, too. Some traffic has been detoured.

The break was reported at about 2:30 a.m. on Route 28, in front of 265 South Broadway.

Last month, there were two water main breaks at the intersection of Routes 28 and 97, in an area of town called "The Depot."

Ian Ligget via Flickr CC

Legislative negotiators have reached a tentative agreement on a 10-year highway plan for New Hampshire.

The House and Senate still must vote on Friday's agreement, which is one of two measures aimed at making needed highway improvements. Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a 4-cent increase on the gas and diesel tax into law this week. Tax proceeds will pay $200 million of the $250 million needed to finish expanding Interstate 93 from the Massachusetts border to Manchester.

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