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Thursday, January 22, 2009

From the Telegraph

The Nashua Telegraph reports on yesterday's study of transportation priorities in New Hampshire:
A public policy think tank said the state's Department of Transportation "wish list'' for the stimulus package pending before Congress contains projects not on the state's 10-year highway plan.

Transportation Commissioner George Campbell recently detailed the $535 million of "shovel ready'' projects the state wants the Obama administration and both houses of Congress to approve.

But the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy noted that $220 million to double the railroad tracks from the Massachusetts line to Manchester was not included in the state's original plan to restore commuter rail through Nashua.

The $300 million commuter rail request is by far the largest by the state.

A stimulus plan unveiled in a House committee last week, however, relies heavily upon an existing formula for state-by-state federal highway aid that penalizes New Hampshire and gives it less in aid for every $1 federal gas tax dollar motorists from the state send to Washington.

Lead investigator Grant Bosse said the state would be better off redirecting some of the rail spending to fixing ailing bridges on the state's Red List.

"New Hampshire should stick to its transportation priorities, and not rush into a use-it-or-lose-it attitude," Bosse added. "If Congress gives the Granite State enough flexibility, New Hampshire can wipe out its Red List instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars a commuter rail line it doesn't need and can't afford.

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