$1.5 billion in cuts planned for New Hampshire highway plan

| 11/20/2007

Construction crews in New Hampshire could have $1.5 billion less to build and maintain roads in the state during the next 10 years.

The state’s Executive Council will vote later in November on whether to accept a revised package that calls for $2.5 billion during the next decade to pay for transportation work. The five-member panel would need to send the package to Gov. John Lynch to look over before submitting it to the Legislature.

Charles O’Leary, the state’s acting transportation director, said the changes are needed because the state doesn’t have enough money rolling in to fulfill all the promises made for the 10-year plan.

O’Leary cited a drop in federal highway funds of 30 percent during the next couple years, The Associated Press reported. To make matters worse, construction costs have increased by 45 percent during the past three years and federal money has been diverted to projects on turnpikes, which should rely on tolls for funding.

Notable projects removed from the revised plan include the Circumferential Highway around Nashua, a Troy bypass and related work, and much of the proposed Conway Bypass.

Work that still is part of the plan includes $535 million for widening Interstate 93 from Salem to Manchester and $200 million in work on the Spaulding Turnpike in the Rochester area.

O’Leary said more cuts need to be made from the plan. He wants another $500 million removed, The AP reported.

The original plan had a price tag of $4 billion. It was expected to take 35 years to complete.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Hampshire in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor