Another View -- Bruce Bretton: Sununu's infrastructure plan is helping NH townsBy BRUCE BRETTON
August 06. 2017 10:07PM
WHILE REPAIRING NEW HAMPSHIRE’S ROADS AND BRIDGES might not generate the excitement of this year’s more hotly-debated issues in Concord, Gov. Chris Sununu’s recent infrastructure grant package will have a profound impact on our communities’ infrastructure and is a big win for our property taxpayers. The money allows each and every town to perform critical maintenance on their roads and bridges. Our towns of Windham, Salem, Bedford, Rollinsford and Lancaster are receiving $285,146, $552,966, $487,073, and $91,162, respectively.
Gov. Sununu’s infrastructure grant places important infrastructure maintenance projects back within the reach of our towns. It allows us to perform the much-needed maintenance on our roadways while simultaneously enhancing public safety, stimulating local economies, preventing increases in property taxes, and improving the overall quality of life in New Hampshire. The bottom line is that our citizens get to keep more of their money while still benefiting from better roads and bridges.
The savings the program produces don’t just come from taxes. According to TRIP, a nonprofit transportation research organization, 49 percent of our major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. These run-down roads cost each New Hampshire motorist an additional $363 in vehicle maintenance and operating costs annually, equaling a whopping $391 million for our residents each year. However, each dollar spent on road and bridge improvements results in $5.20 of savings in safety, fuel consumption, delays, emissions, and maintenance costs.
The benefits of this program go beyond saving money. Better roads also increase safety on our public ways. TRIP estimates that roadway features contribute to around one-third of traffic fatalities. Improving New Hampshire’s roadways will only serve to increase safety and lower the incidents of vehicle accidents, thereby preventing many injuries and deaths.
Additionally, Area Development Magazine stated that highway accessibility is the number two site selection factor for businesses. This highlights the importance of infrastructure, as roadways are critical for businesses, and therefore the local economy. By improving our roadways, we can boost our economy on the state and local level.
The benefits from this program will have a significant impact on our quality of life and economy, and will do so with no detriment to the taxpayer. It is rare that a program provides such substantial benefit to the community with no costs, but this program is the exception to the rule. With his infrastructure revitalization effort, Gov. Sununu has done a great service to New Hampshire, its towns, and its people.
Windham Selectman Bruce Bretton is writing on behalf of Salem Selectman Everett McBride, Lancaster Selectman Leon Rideout, Rollinsford Selectwoman Jodi Lavoie Carnes, and Bedford Councilor Melissa Stevens.