Eight rest areas on chopping block in New Hampshire

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | Monday, February 28, 2011

In his recent budget address, Gov. John Lynch is proposing the reduction of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation?s operating budget by $12 million. His proposal would close eight of the state?s 16 rest areas in the next two years.

The governor?s plan also calls for the transfer of the state?s welcome centers from the NHDOT to the state?s Department of Resources and Economic Development for the ?redevelopment? of Hooksett and the Interstate 95 welcome centers.

?Our goal is to make our rest centers more than pit stops, but areas that truly welcome people to our state and promote our tourism industry,? Lynch said in his budget address in mid-February.

Bill Boynton, public information officer for the NHDOT, told Land Line on Monday, Feb. 28, that his agency is facing ?difficult budget decisions.?

?At this point it is just a proposal in the governor?s budget and there are no specific plans as to how the rest areas would be closed, i.e. gates, etc., or whether turn-off access would still be allowed,? he said. ?Much more difficult budget decisions, involving such areas as winter maintenance may lie ahead.?

The rest areas potentially slated for closure include the rest areas at Antrim on State Route 9, Colebrook on U.S. Route 3, Epsom on U.S. Route 4, Lebanon on I-89, Littleton on I-93, Rumney on State Route 25, Shelburne on U.S. Route 2, and Sanbornton on I-93.