To The Daily Sun,
It has been estimated that 37 percent of the state roads in New Hampshire are deemed in "poor condition," by the N.H. Department of Transportation. As a resident of the Town of Sandwich, I can verify that all the state-maintained roads in our town are in "poor condition." How did we get here and what can be done to meet the challenge?
The simple answer is that the state has dwindling funds to fix or maintain the roadways that serve our needs. Despite the limitations, the State Department of Transportation has done all it can to maintain the roads. Chris Clement, commissioner of Transportation estimates he has between $32 and $40 million a year to spend on winter maintenance that actually requires more than $100 million. Unfortunately, it costs about $50,000 a mile to resurface a road in decent condition and about $1,000,000 to fix a badly maintained road. In addition, roads less traveled are likely to be ignored and fall deeper and deeper into disrepair.
In the meantime, cars, trucks and buses constantly roll through our giant potholes caused by frost heaves that can raise the broken roadway more than seven inches. Town residents report steering, suspension and alignment problems. It's estimated by TRIP that these repairs can average between $300 and $500.
Roads less traveled can also have an affect on business and social gatherings about town. A trip of a few miles can take 20 minutes after slowing to four miles an hour while avoiding giant holes and cracks in the asphalt.
Unfortunately, repairing roads can be a political, as well as a personal issue. Anti-tax sentiment has consumed the good sense that once recognized that good roads make prosperous communities. The most short-sighted say, "If I don't use that road or bridge, do I really need it?" The sensible answer: "What good is a road that only goes to your house? Being able to drive on roads outside your neighborhood is a good idea."
As the New Hampshire Senate recently voted to raise the gas tax by four cents, Americans for Prosperity-NH came out strongly against the measure. This is the same organization funded by the Koch Brothers, the oil, gas and paper billionaires.
It is estimated that the new levy will bring in an additional $33 million into the general Highway Fund. New Hampshire has not had an increase in the gas tax since 1991 as asphalt charges have quadrupled and fuel-efficient cars bring in fewer gas tax dollars.
I encourage anyone who wants more funding for the Department of Transportation to call your State Representatives at 271-1110 and the governor at 271-2121.