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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

N.H. Emergency Management Director: Infrastructure Needs Rebuilding To Withstand Future Floods

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Steve Hooper; The Keene Sentinal
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Damage caused by flood in Alstead in 2005

Hurricane Harvey slammed the Gulf Coast last week, and it got us thinking: How ready is New Hampshire for major storms, hurricanes, and floods?

Perry Plummer, Director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the New Hampshire Department of Safety, says the state has plenty of work to do to ensure our infrastructure can handle the kind of extreme weather events that are becoming increasingly common.

"We know more water is coming; we’re going to get these types of rain storms," Plummer said on The Exchange. "Obviously, I don’t think we’ll get a Harvey in New Hampshire, but we are going to get 10 and 15 inches of rain, and that’s going to challenge our infrastructure. We need to rebuild our infrastructure to protect our residents, protect our critical infrastructure." 

Plummer said that immediate response to a disaster -- dramatic rescues, for instance  -- get far more attention than recovery, when the painstaking work of rebuilding begins.

"We're just closing out one of our disaster grants on a project that happened in Irene in 2011," he said. "Hurricane/tropical storm Irene in 2011 dropped seven inches of rain. We’re just taking care of one of those projects right now.  We have about nine open disasters right now that we’re in the recovery phase with."   

With these extreme weather events in mind, Plummer urges all Granite Staters to keep 72 hours' worth of food, water, and emergency provisions on hand.  

Listen to the full conversation: 

GUESTS:

  • Jim Gallagher - Chief engineer of the Dam Bureau of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. 
  • Fred McNeill -  Chief engineer at the Environmental Protection Division in Manchester, where he works with wastewater.
  • Perry Plummer - Director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the New Hampshire Department of Safety. 
  • Jonathan Winter - Assistant professor of geography at Dartmouth College. 

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