Report on NH roads: Good, some bumps ahead
The condition of New Hampshire’s interstate highways was ranked first in the nation in an annual report by the Reason Foundation. (NHDOT PHOTO)
Interstate highways in the southern tier of the state are the best in the nation, ranked number one in a 50-state analysis by the Reason Foundation, a nonpartisan, public-policy foundation that publishes Reason magazine.
With zero miles of urban interstate in poor condition, New Hampshire ranks first in that category, based largely on data from the Federal Highway Administration.
That doesn’t mean New Hampshire bridges are falling down.
“The average age of a New Hampshire bridge is 54 years old. Half of all New Hampshire bridges were built before 1976. A large segment of our bridge inventory of 2,143 state bridges is reaching the end of its design life,” he wrote in an email. “Only half of the state bridges were designed to meet modern loads, and yet traffic on these bridges has gone up 33 percent in the last 20 years. Current funding for state bridges is $30 million a year. We should be investing $47 million in these bridges just to maintain them at existing levels.”
The report ranks states on 11 different criteria, ranging from quality of urban and rural interstates and bridges, to fatality rates and more arcane calculations such as “maintenance disbursement per mile.”
New Hampshire does spend a lot on maintenance compared to warm weather states, and was ranked 42nd for spending $51,780 per mile of roadway, meaning only eight states spent more. But the state spent much less than others on capital investment (meaning expansion or new roads) and bridges. The state’s total expenditure per mile puts it in the middle of the pack, at 29.
According to state Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, chairman of the Public Works and Highway Committee, the report takes a snapshot of a period in time when the state enjoyed several one-time sources of highway funding that will not be available moving forward, including $129 million in federal stimulus funding, all of which went to the interstate system.
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