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Merrimack may sue state DOT over trio of turnpike tolls

Union Leader Correspondent

November 04. 2013 9:57PM

MERRIMACK — The town council will decide Thursday whether to take legal action against the New Hampshire Department of Transportation in connection with three tollbooths on the F.E. Everett Turnpike.

“Merrimack is saying ‘Enough is enough,’” Councilor Dan Dwyer said Monday in response to his proposal to sue the state for an alleged breach of the Constitution of New Hampshire for failing to provide equitable taxation among communities.

Last month, the House Public Works and Highways Committee voted 15-0 to recommend killing Senate Bill 3, which would have eliminated the exit 12 ramp tolls — one of three tollbooths located in Merrimack.

“The vote pushed us over the edge. They are telling us we don’t matter,” said Dwyer.“This has gone far enough. We have tried to be nice and work with legislators,” said Dwyer. “Now we fight. We are not going to whine about this anymore. Now we will get to expose how the state funds the highway system, and there is no possible way that a judge could justify all three ramps being kept.”

Since there is nothing the Merrimack Town Council can do to get rid of the tolls in Merrimack, Councilor Finlay Rothhaus, chairman of the board, said legal action may be a viable option that should be considered.

“As we contemplate this, we want to know all of the options, and we don’t want to waste time,” said Rothhaus. “For me, if it has some merit, I wouldn’t be opposed to it, but I want to make sure we have a leg to stand on.”

Dwyer maintains that the revenue from the tolls is not being used to pay off the town’s bond for the exits, but instead is being used to fund other projects in different communities that do not have tolls.

“We have a document stating that there is 82 years left on the bond. We have a host of questions. Where is Merrimack’s end date?” asked Dwyer. “A lot of us are just angry now, and these tolls are never going to be removed unless forced by a court. Time is of the essence.”

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