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NH roads: Are they really horrible?

Advocates of a huge state gas tax increase continue to claim that New Hampshire’s roads and bridges are in terrible condition. So why aren’t Granite Staters demanding big increases in transportation spending?

This week the libertarian Reason Foundation released its annual report on state road conditions. It ranked New Hampshire 16th in the nation. We spend more on maintenance and repairs than most states, and less on new construction, which puts us 29th for total spending.

Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, denounced the study. “I’m concerned that a report like this will distract people from the overall horrific condition of the state roads and bridges,” he told this newspaper. Horrific?

In February, Campbell promoted a study by a group called TRIP. It purported to show that 37 percent of the state’s roads were in disrepair and immediate action was needed. TRIP is a Washington advocacy group for the road construction and materials industries.

No question, some New Hampshire roads and bridges need more investment. But were Campbell correct that our roads are “horrific,” legislators would demand a gas tax hike because their constituents would demand road repairs. That isn’t happening because our roads are actually pretty good overall. Instead of trying to scare citizens, Campbell and his legislative allies should make the case for small increases targeted to specific needs. Maybe then they would get somewhere.

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