Officials say southern NH roads need to be fixed
MANCHESTER — Elected officials representing southern New Hampshire are pressing for increased funding for road and bridge repairs as vital to the region’s economy.
“New Hampshire was famous for the quality of our roads and bridges,” state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, said Wednesday at a special forum he convened at City Hall. “Now we’re slower than the other New England states. We’ve got to improve.”
State representatives David Campbell, D-Nashua, John Graham, R-Bedford, and Pat Long, D-Manchester, who is also a city alderman, each underscored the need for greater investment in roads and bridges.
Long noted that the city has seven red-listed bridges, and the city is earmarked to receive only $344,000 in state transportation funding for 2013. He noted that the current project underway to repair and replace the brick along stretches of Elm Street sidewalk is costing the city $350,000.
“It’s key that we have city infrastructure looking presentable for business. The chamber has businesses visiting here, so does the MDC,” Long said. “When you drive down Canal Street and see exposed rebar — that’s not marketing our community.”
Rep. Campbell, the chairman of the House Public Works and Highways Committee, indicated that a gas tax increase, which has been rejected by the Legislature in past sessions, was overdue.
“I said four years ago, we are at a tipping point. Two years ago, I said we’re in a crisis situation. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say we’re in a catastrophic situation right now,” Campbell said.
In addition to the scores of state roadways in disrepair and about 140 red-listed bridges, the state’s biggest transportation project, the Interstate 93 widening, is underfunded by $250 million, Campbell said.
Rep. Graham, a Republican, said the issue is “not partisan.”
“The state of New Hampshire has a 10-year-plan (for transportation projects),” he said. “The question is how realistic is it if we don’t have the finances to implement it. That’s the key element that has to be addressed in the next legislative session.”