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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

New Business Coalition To Push For Commuter Rail In New Hampshire

NHPR File Photo

The president of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce says he's encouraged by Gov. Chris Sununu's support for studying commuter rail expansion.

Michael Skelton now hopes state lawmakers follow suit. He will not be alone.

A new business coalition, “New Hampshire Business for Rail Expansion,” was unveiled Tuesday to advocate for restoring passenger train service from Boston to Manchester. Skelton first mentioned it while speaking on The Exchange on Tuesday.

More than 50 businesses have joined it. The group’s first push is to promote the inclusion of a $4 million study of rail expansion along the state’s Capitol Corridor as part of the state’s ten-year transportation improvement plan.

On The Exchange, Skelton says Sununu, who previously called passenger rail a “boondoggle,” embraced a closer look at the viability of passenger trains after the state submitted its long-shot bid for Amazon’s second headquarters.

New Hampshire has its advantages, but mass transit is not one of them, Skelton says.

He says companies looking to grow or relocate to New Hampshire cite workforce availability as a key concern.

"Our belief is that creating a stronger connection with the greater Boston area and building that talent pipeline is going to really continue to unlock significant economic opportunities for us,” he says.

Rail has proven a thorny subject in New Hampshire politics. Drew Cline, interim president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, said on The Exchange that free-market politicians are opposed to government subsidizing train service.

“Rail is the transportation version of a vanity project. It’s transportation bling, right,” Cline said. “It’s really a status symbol. It is not a cost-effective transportation option. It’s not a cost-effective means of moving people. Hedge fund managers, right, they buy Italian sports cars. Hip hop artists buy bullet-proof, big, black luxury SUVs, and governments buy rail projects. It’s a status symbol.”

A House committee will be taking up the state's proposed 10-year plan, starting Wednesday.


Dan is a long-time New Hampshire journalist who has written for outlets including Foster's Daily Democrat, The Citizen of Laconia, The Boston Globe, and The Eagle-Tribune. He comes to NHPR from the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he reported on state, local, and national politics.

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