Joseph Kenney’s View From Concord, November 2021

By Joseph D. Kenney

The Governor’s Advisory Commission on Intermodal Transportation (GACIT) consists of five Executive Councilors and the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation. GACIT, along with the Regional Planning Commissions, have an initial role to provide input into the Ten-Year Highway Improvement Plan. Also, the Executive Council votes to accept and expend all federal transportation funds.

GACIT has conducted 22 statewide public hearings to receive input on the Ten-Year Highway Improvement Plan. In December 2021, GACIT will provide its recommendations to the Governor who will in turn assign it over to the New Hampshire Legislature for its input and review.  After the House and Senate passes the Ten-Year Highway Improvement Plan, the Governor will sign it into law by June 2022.

There has been a lot of news surrounding the new federal infrastructure five-year plan called the Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act (IIJA). New Hampshire is programmed to receive $1.139 billion for its highway programs.  Even so, this highway programming amount remains the lowest nationally for a state. Moreover, New Hampshire will be confronted with a revenue shortfall in its road tolls, Betterment, and SB367 programs.  But having said that, the IIJA federal funding will help to advance many projects.

One of the bright funding sources will be the bridge program category.  This IIJA funding amount is $225 million (m) to address state and town red-listed bridges. The strategy is to use 15% of the bridge fund to support the municipal bridge aid program ($6.75 m/year).   Allocate the remaining $38 m/year bridge funds to existing state bridge projects to free up funds with greater spending flexibility. The municipal red-listed bridges are over 200, and the state red-listed bridges are over 100.  It is the intent to lower the state red-listed bridges from its current amount of 118 to 88 during this ten-year period.

One of the other strategies is to increase the following mandated programs by 24%: HSIP, TAP, CMAQ, Rec Trails, etc. ($8.3 m).  These are popular programs that each District Councilor has a lot of say in.   It is the intent to alternate the TAP and CMAQ from year to year.  Other funds for these programs will support administrative project changes, project increases, and recommended changes.

Additional transportation IIJA categories include Electric Vehicle Charging Stations ($17.3 m), Public Transportation ($131 m), and Airports ($45.6 m).  Other infrastructure items include Broadband ($100 m), Wildfires ($5.6 m), Cyber Security ($12.4 m) and Water ($418 m).

GACIT public hearing comments brought out the need to expand travel options, improve safety, maintenance of the present system, congestion reduction, and enhance system resiliency. In these hearings, it has become clear there is going to be a reduction in state revenue for unrestricted road tolls, Betterment, and SB367 funds in the coming years.  The TIFIA financing for I-93 will start to take out $23.4 m/year starting in 2026 for nine years.

The New Hampshire Legislature will be forced to look at future gas tax revenues and how it will support our paving and maintenance programs

Additionally, the New Hampshire Legislature will be looking at policy issues such as: how does the state tax electric vehicles on our roadways, the reduction in gas tax revenue (due to more workers working from home), state workforce issues, material costs, contracted labor, safety, and transit issues.

I will always do my best to advocate for District 1, and I look forward to hearing from you at
603 581-8780.