On August 23, the Department of Transportation presented the Ten Year Highway Improvement Plan to the Governor's Advisory Commission on Intermodal Transportation (GACIT). The GACIT committee is made up of five New Hampshire Executive Councilors and the Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner.
The Executive Council initially set up 19 public hearings which has now grown to 24 hearings. In District 1 public hearings have taken place in: Errol, Berlin, Conway, Lebanon, Littleton, Plymouth, Laconia and a joint meeting in Rochester. The only remaining public hearing left in District 1 is in Claremont on October 23. Each Councilor is responsible to preside over each hearing within their District.
The hearings are an opportunity for the Executive Councilors, and the New Hampshire DOT to obtain public comment on transportation needs in the region, and specific feedback on the draft 2019-2028 Ten Year Highway Improvement Plan.
Throughout the GACIT public hearings, Peter Stamnas, Director of Project Development, has been making a comprehensive presentation on the Ten Year Highway Improvement Plan to include: GACIT Process Overview, Current State of Infrastructure, Ten Year Highway Improvement Plan Funding Synopsis, Unfunded Needs and Supplement Information Review. After each presentation, the Regional Planning Commissions have provided their input and Regional Philosophy on projects.
The Ten Year Highway Improvement Plan was developed back in the 1980s and it is mandated by State law. The process provides communities, NHDOT and GACIT direction as to what the State's priorities are relative to transportation projects. The process repeats itself every two years and as one cycle ends, the next cycle begins.
Following the public hearings this month, the Department will prepare a revised draft Ten Year Highway Improvement Plan for GACIT to adopt. Once adopted by GACIT, the Ten Year Highway Improvement Plan will be forwarded to the Governor in December for his review and comments and he will forward it to the Legislature in January of 2018. The Legislature will hold additional hearings and enact the Ten Year Highway Improvement Plan into Law by June 2018.
Some general observations during this process is that the NHDOT has more projects than there is funding. The 2019 to 2028 funding (state and federal) is on average 252 million per year, down from the current amount of 270 million per year. The Red List bridges have trended upward over the past seven years, the SB 367 has added funding for I-93, State Aid Bridges and TIFIA loan pledge for paving & bridge work. Debt service for I-93 is 2 million per year and increases to 23.4 million per year from 2026 to 2034. Transit funding totals 324 million for an average of 32 million per year with funding primarily coming from the Federal Transit Administration.
The overall strategy of the Ten Year Highway Plan will focus on: pavement preservation and maintenance, Red Listed bridges and preservation, dedicate SB 367 funds for TIFIA loan pledged to rural roads and bridges, completion of I-93 and funding for Exit 4A and heightened financial constraint to increase levels of accountability, predictability and ability to deliver.
Written comments regarding this current Draft Ten Highway Improvement Plan may be submitted through November 6 to NHDOT. The address is NHDOT, 7 Hazen Drive, Concord, New Hampshire 03302. Attention: Bill Watson. www.nh.gov/dot/
Joseph D. Kenney
Executive Councilor District 1
Wakefield, New Hampshire