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June 23. 2014 10:27PM

Toll collection at Merrimack's Exit 12 to stop next month

MERRIMACK — The New Hampshire Department of Transportation will stop collecting tolls at Exit 12 in Merrimack on July 18.

“We will probably stop the toll collection in the evening hours on that day, and there will be signage notifying the traveling public,” said William Watson, planning and community assistance administrator with the DOT.

Last month, the state legislature approved Senate Bill 367, which raises the gas tax from 18 to 22.2 cents per gallon. It also includes a clause to eliminate the ramp tolls at Exit 12 of the F.E. Everett Turnpike in Merrimack — one of three turnpike exits in town.

Watson said the goal is to have the islands and booths removed by Thanksgiving. The DOT plans to advertise for the project in early August; the estimated cost to remove the plaza is about $560,000.

The Exit 12 toll closure will result in an annual revenue loss of about $600,000, according to officials. However, the gas tax increase could potentially collect about $32 million a year, or about $588 million over the next two decades to be used to finish the Interstate 93 expansion from Salem to Manchester, along with other highway and bridge maintenance.

Local officials have repeatedly attempted to offer toll relief to Merrimack residents, even exploring the possibility of suing the state for an alleged breach of the Constitution of New Hampshire because of inequitable taxation for residents.

Nancy Harrington, town councilor, said recently that she is pleased with the upcoming toll relief.

“I think anyone would be pleased,” she said. “I think we have to be happy with what we get.”

With three exits in Merrimack, removing one toll is a step in the right direction, Harrington said.

“I am sure the residents in the northern part of town will be happy with this,” she added.

khoughton@newstote.com


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