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Afternoon commuter traffic picks up during road work on Interstate 93 North at Exit 3 in Windham on Wednesday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

Revenue from gas tax increase ramps up paving state highways

HANOVER — The recent 4.2 cent gas tax increase is already paying dividends for the state’s highways and bridges.

On Wednesday, the Executive Council approved approximately $25.7 million in paving and rehabilitating 195 miles of highways around the state funded by the additional money from the gas tax increase.

State officials believe the increase in tax revenue will result in an additional $33 million this fiscal year.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Chris Clement said the remaining money is being set aside for work on Route 26 in Dixville Notch until other work is completed.

The agency hopes the paving work being done with three contractors, Pike Industrices, Inc. of Belmont, Contenential Paving Inc. of Londonderry and Box Industries Inc. of Dracut, Mass., will be completed before winter.

Other work requiring roadways to be dug up and replaced will be done by the end of 2015, Clement said.

He said a little less money will be available next year because local highway aid of about $3.4 million will begin going to cities and towns for their highway and bridge projects.

The gas tax increase was the first since 1991.

District 4 Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, D-Manchester, said the work begins to address the state’s critical transportation infrastructure.

While the gas tax increase was a hot political issue before the legislature, Sen. Jim Rausch, R-Londonderry, worked to achieve bipartisan support in the Senate which had killed a 12-cent proposed increase in the gas tax last year, that the House had passed.

After the first two years, about half of the money from the increase will pay off $250 million in bonds to complete the Interstate 93 expansion project from Salem to Manchester.

The gas tax bill also included the elimination of the Exit 12 toll ramps on the FE Everett Turnpike in Merrimack. The state is slated to stop collecting tolls at that exit Friday at 9 p.m.

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