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No relief from Merrimack's Exit 12 ramp tolls this year

CONCORD — Merrimack residents' hope for some relief from the F.E. Everett Turnpike ramp tolls was dashed by the House Thursday.

The House voted 201-72 to kill Senate Bill 3, which would have eliminated the Exit 12 ramp tolls.

Merrimack residents have long complained they are the only community along the state's turnpike system with three tolls to enter or leave the turnpike and have long sought to have them removed.

However, state transportation officials and lawmakers say an agreement was struck to add the three exits in Merrimack in return for the toll revenue to pay off the bonds for the project.

"Merrimack is unfairly paying more than anyone else in New Hampshire to drive on the highway," said Rep. Jeanine Notter, R-Merrimack, "and that is wrong."

Sponsored by former Senate President Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, SB 3 originally would have eliminated the three Merrimack ramp tolls, but was changed to just the Exit 12 ramp before the Senate approved it.

The House retained the bill last session and this year voted to kill it.

Exit 12 tolls total about $900,000 a year for the turnpike system.

Key lawmakers say they will look at ramp tolls in an overall review of the turnpike system.

House Public Works and Highways Chairman David Campbell, D-Nashua, said his committee is working on the state's new 10-year highway improvement plan and the issue is one of several along the F.E. Everett Turnpike system that will be addressed, including a $2 million revenue loss due to the new Manchester Airport access road.

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