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Highway robbery: Repeating Lynch's Turnpike Raid

December 04. 2017 11:45PM

Politicians at the New Hampshire State House just can’t seem to keep their hands off the Turnpike System.

Lawmakers raid turnpikes for the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks; that’s where the money is.

The proposal pushed by Executive Councilors Russ Prescott, Chris Pappas, and Andru Volinsky to raise toll rates across New Hampshire is yet another attempt to increase revenues from the Turnpike System, and spend that money on other projects.

Under New Hampshire law, funds from tolls must be spent on the Turnpike System, and cannot be diverted to the Highway Fund. But greedy politicians have found ways to circumvent the law.

In 2009, Gov. John Lynch raised tolls in Hampton in order to fund the “purchase” of a piece of road for $120 million. The transfer was supposed to prop up the Highway Fund for 20 years. It ran out in five.

Now the E-ZPass Three are back for another raid, using another round of toll increases to pay for the Bow-Concord I-93 widening project, which is not part of the Turnpike System.

New Hampshire drivers are paying more than enough in tolls to fund the Turnpike System. Another turnpike raid may have sounded like a good idea during the obscure highway planning process, but it is rotting in the light of public scrutiny.

Prescott now wants to delay the vote until January, so the council can seek more public input.

Gov. Chris Sununu can save the council some time by pulling the proposal from the council’s agenda, or pledging to negate it if it were to pass.

Transportation State Government Editorial

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