Fuel tax change debated in New Hampshire

| Friday, January 28, 2005

Truckers and road contractors this week faced off against environmentalists about a proposed change in New Hampshire law to permit fuel tax proceeds to be used on commuter rail projects.

Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, sponsored an amendment to the state constitution that would allow state spending on the extension of commuter rail from Nashua, NH, to Lowell, MA, along with proposed projects on the sea coast.

Speaking to the Senate Transportation and Interstate Cooperation Committee Jan. 26, the New Hampshire Motor Transport Association and the Association of General Contractors opposed the plan, both warning it would jeopardize high-priority road work such as the widening of Interstate 93 from Salem to Manchester, The Telegraph reported.

The Conservation Law Foundation and the Sierra Club say the change would permit the state to strike the proper balance between economic growth and protecting the environment.

The concurrent resolution – ACAR – would need to be approved by lawmakers and then go to a statewide vote requiring a two-thirds majority for passage in the November 2006 general election.

The proposal remains in the Senate transportation panel.

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