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March 25. 2014 6:25PM

House approves $3 billion for 10-year highway plan

CONCORD — The House Tuesday approved a $3 billion, 10-year highway improvement plan that would help fund the Interstate-93 expansion between Salem and Manchester, rebuild the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge and expand a section of Route 101 in Bedford.

House Public Works Chairman David Campbell, D-Nashua, said that Bedford section of Route 101 beyond the intersection with Route 114 and Boynton Street “is probably the most dangerous section of road in the state.”

He noted the road is way above capacity with more than 500 accidents in last 10 years.

The Sarah Long is the state’s number one red-listed bridge, but Campbell said that is not the only reason to replace it: there are significant economic reasons.

The current structure is too narrow for the next generation of freight tankers carrying oil, propane, salt and other produces into Portsmouth Harbor. Without widening the stanchions Portsmouth Harbor would be obsolete, he said.

Maine and New Hampshire will split the cost of the $160 million project.

The committee decided to take $1.2 million a year earmarked for guard rail replacement and use it for secondary road rehabilitation projects, and redirected $1.1 million for turnpike exit renumbering to paving projects on rural roads.

“The plan is heavy on maintenance and preservation of the infrastructure there now,” Campbell said, “and low on new projects.”

The bill now goes to the Senate.


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