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Wider I-293 may have to wait without more toll revenue
Tolls are also paying for ongoing work at Exit 4, where a major traffic detour is in effect. Planned work on utility and drainage lines requires closing the northbound entrance to the highway at Exit 4 through Dec. 11. Motorists who usually head north from Exit 4 can head north on Second Street and use northbound Exit 5 at Granite Street.
But the turnpike's revenues are already going to pay off projects which have been finished or are already underway.
"In order to accommodate construction for that project and the right-of-way acquisitions, we would not have sufficient funds in order to accommodate construction," said Keith Coda, state Department of Transportation project director. "In order to bring it forward in a timely manner, it would require some type of a revenue stream."
Since I-293 is part of the turnpike, the revenue stream would have to come from tolls. The options are to raise tolls, extend the portion of the turnpike on which tolls are collected, or simply wait for other projects to be paid off.
Campbell has been a supporter of increased funding for state highways and sponsored a proposal to raise the state gasoline tax; the bill passed the House earlier this year, but was killed in the Senate.
On Wednesday, the Executive Council is expected to take up the biennial revision of the state's 10-year transportation plan. The council's version goes to the governor, who will make her own recommendation.
Any increase in turnpike tolls to pay for work in Manchester would have to be approved by the council.
"I haven't taken a position on that yet; we're at the phase now where we're identifying the important transportation priorities for this region," Pappas said. "Redoing exits 6 and 7 are a priority for this region; my job is to make sure we get that right when we submit a ten-year plan to the governor."
"The solutions that are coming forward out of the (I-293) study would still be valid," Coda said. "The problem would be if there was a substantial long-term delay, say 20 years. The traffic level would be different from that that was studied, and there may be pressure to go beyond six lanes."
"We could get creative with the (E-ZPass) discount, we could make sure commuters that use the system often and have a New Hampshire transponder don't bear as big a burden," Pappas said. "Those are discussions that have to happen."
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