Shaheen Discusses NH Infrastructure Needs with Pelham Town Leaders

August 8, 2014
Staff Photo by Len Lathrop  Board of Selectman Chairman Edmund Gleason listens as Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) explains where the highway bill is in the funding process.

Staff Photo by Len Lathrop Board of Selectman Chairman Edmund Gleason listens as Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) explains where the highway bill is in the funding process.

by Len Lathrop

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) met with Pelham Selectmen and local town staff in Pelham on Monday, July 28, to discuss the importance of infrastructure investments and the impact these investments will have on New Hampshire’s economy and public safety.

Shaheen discussed her legislation, the Strengthen and Fortify Existing Bridges Act of 2014 (SAFE Bridges Act), which would provide $5.5 billion to repair and replace aging and deteriorating bridges, of which Pelham has three on the list.  Shaheen discussed the need to replenish the Highway Trust Fund – which the Senate is expected to consider – to avoid delays to important infrastructure projects across New Hampshire.  In addition to the three Pelham bridges, currently, one-third of New Hampshire’s bridges are classified as either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and more than 2 million people travel across them on an average day.  Pelham has two bridges currently on the State of New Hampshire’s Red List.

Shaheen listened as Pelham officials explained that during the Mother’s Day Floods of 2006 the town was cut in half as Beaver Brook overran the bridges and roadway.  Fire Chief Midgley added that his department had to be divided and crews stationed on both side of the flooded roads.

“Improving our state’s infrastructure is critical for job creation, economic growth and public safety,” Shaheen said.  “We have to replenish the Highway Trust Fund before it’s too late.  Failure to do so will delay projects and cost New Hampshire jobs and we cannot afford the economic consequences of inaction.”

NH DOT Deputy Commissioner Patrick McKenna explained how funding is holding up infrastructure repair in New Hampshire and, even with the recent increase to the gas tax, which added $30 million to road projects.  The cost of one major bridge repair, like in Portsmouth, totaled $250 million out of a project budget of $300 million where costs were shared with the state of Maine.  Likewise, the Sara Long Bridge will cost as much to replace.

Depletion of the Highway Trust Fund could result in the loss of $55 million in federal transportation funds and more than 700 jobs in New Hampshire alone.  The Department of Transportation estimates the Highway Trust Fund will become insolvent by the end of August.

Selectman Hal Lynde mentioned what a great job was done by Continental Construction and the state with federal grant funds to build the two new roundabouts.  He commented on how traffic in the center of Pelham is moving so much better and safer.

“Infrastructure investments help create jobs and provide our businesses with critical support, and I’ll continue supporting these types of investments on behalf of New Hampshire’s economy,” added Shaheen.

Shaheen has consistently worked to improve New Hampshire’s transportation infrastructure for both public safety and economic competitiveness.  She partnered with New Hampshire and Maine’s congressional delegations to obtain funding for the replacement of the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth.  Earlier this month, she met with state officials at the I-93 expansion project to discuss efforts to replenish the Highway Trust Fund and has also fought cuts to the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Return program that encourages economic activity and jobs in New Hampshire through important infrastructure investments.