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

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NH News
7:51 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Ceremony Marks Construction Start At Sarah Long Bridge

The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge
Credit 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.

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NH News
3:06 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Outgoing Transportation Commissioner: Fixing Highway Fund Should Be A Priority

Credit 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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NH News
6:55 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Concord Shuts Down 100-Year-Old Sewalls Falls Bridge; Replacement On Tap

Signs of wear and tear on the Sewalls Falls Bridge.
Credit 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.

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Environment
5:11 am
Fri November 14, 2014

As Snow Flies, N.H. Contemplates Using Less Salt

Credit 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.

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NH News
1:34 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Manchester Water Main Fixed, Road Repairs Underway

The water main break in Manchester's Goffe st caused massive road damage.
Credit 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.

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NH News
5:00 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

N.H. DOT Suspends Installation Of Potentially Faulty Guardrail Component

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.”

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North Country
7:10 am
Mon October 6, 2014

Voters To Decide On North Country Bridge Replacement

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.

The Exchange
9:00 am
Wed September 17, 2014

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

Credit 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:

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Newscast
11:14 am
Sun August 10, 2014

Paving Work To Begin On U.S. Route 1 In Portsmouth

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.

NH News
8:48 am
Mon July 14, 2014

With New Rule, N.H. DMV Lifts Temporary Ban On New Vanity Plates

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.

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NH News
4:59 am
Mon July 7, 2014

Construction At Hooksett Rest Area Is 'Months' Ahead Of Schedule

Credit 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.

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NH News
7:08 am
Tue July 1, 2014

N.H.'s Gas Tax Increase: Where Your Money Is Going

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.

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Newscast
2:42 pm
Sun June 29, 2014

Northumberland Expects $278,000 Grant For Emergency Water Main Repair

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.

Newscast
7:58 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Salem Sees Third Water Main Break In A Month

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."

NH News
4:00 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Tentative Agreement On 10-Year Highway Plan Reached

Credit 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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NH News
3:56 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

N.H. Gas Tax Increase Becomes Law

Governor Hassan signing the bill into law.
Ryan Lessard NHPR

On a newly built bridge near interstate 93, Governor Maggie Hassan signed into law the first increase in the state’s gas tax in more than two decades.


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News Primer
4:31 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

NHPR News Primer: N.H.'s Cell Phone Ban

Credit Sara Plourde

Gov. Maggie Hassan is expected to sign legislation making it illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving or stopped in traffic.

The bill, passed by the New Hampshire House last week, represents “the most comprehensive distracted driving bill in the nation,” according to legislative testimony from Earl Sweeney, assistant commissioner of public safety.

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The Sidebar
11:41 am
Tue April 15, 2014

News Primer: N.H.'s Cell Phone Ban

Gov. Maggie Hassan is expected to sign legislation making it illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving or stopped in traffic.

The bill, passed by the New Hampshire House last week, represents “the most comprehensive distracted driving bill in the nation,” according to legislative testimony from Earl Sweeney, assistant commissioner of public safety.

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NH News
7:51 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Hassan Takes Up Infrastucture With Berlin Bridge Visit

Gov. Maggie Hassan is visiting a bridge in Berlin, N.H., to talk about the need to strengthen investment in the state's transportation's infrastructure.

She's visiting the Hillside Avenue Bridge on Wednesday. She says the replacement of the bridge is an important project for traffic, safety and commerce in the area. Hassan said the replacement would be accelerated by the transportation funding bill that recently passed the Senate.

The bridge visit is taking place Wednesday afternoon.

The Exchange
9:00 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Distracted Driving In N.H.

Credit epSos.de / Flickr Creative Commons

The legislature looks at limits on texting and talking while behind the wheel.  We’re looking at the current bill in New Hampshire, and some of the research and debate on this issue nationally.

GUESTS:

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NH News
6:00 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Bedford Voters To Consider $30M Bond For Road Improvements

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

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The Exchange
9:00 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Gearing Up For Another Gas Tax Debate

Credit 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.

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The Sidebar
6:00 am
Tue January 21, 2014

The Sidebar: N.H. Legislators Will Make Another Run At Raising Gas Tax

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.
Credit 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.

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The Exchange
1:27 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

DOT Commissioner, Chris Clement

Credit 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.

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The Exchange
12:14 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

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

New Hampshire is in one of the most costly parts of the country for winter road maintenance. Plowing costs often eat at paving budgets.
Credit 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.

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Newscast
7:54 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Icy Roads Lead To Accidents, Road Closures

Some areas of New Hampshire are dealing with icy road conditions, as freezing rain continues through the morning.

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