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LISTEN: New Radio Ad Hits Hassan Over NH’s ‘Dead Last’ Infrastructure Funding

Sen. Maggie Hassan has touted her leadership on the newly-passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending package. But a new radio ad is calling her out for the fact her state came in ‘dead last’ in funding from the bill.

“In a split 50-50 U.S. Senate, Joe Biden needed every Democrat vote to pass his infrastructure plan. Maggie Hassan had the power to change the plan, but didn’t. She allowed it to pass with New Hampshire coming in dead last in total funding,” the ad’s narrator said. “New Hampshire got the least amount of money for projects like roads bridges, and high-speed internet.”


Listen to the new radio ad targeting Sen. Maggie Hassan here.


It is a complaint Gov. Chris Sununu has made repeatedly since President Biden signed the spending plan. “We’re 50th in the country for roads and bridges, and they’re coming to New Hampshire to tout roads and bridges,” Sununu asked when Biden came to New Hampshire last month to talk up the infrastructure spending. “And our federal delegation is taking a victory lap?”

Hassan, on the other hand, is bragging about the role she played in crafting this spending bill.

“I helped lead negotiations around this bill to make sure it responds to the pressing infrastructure needs of small and rural states like New Hampshire,” she said in a statement.

And Biden gave her a big shoutout during his visit to Woodstock, N.H.

“Maggie, you did one hell of a job because, folks, you should know that Maggie was a key player in every aspect of this law,” Biden said. “She was always making sure New Hampshire’s roads and bridges, like the one we’re standing on today, were safe, and this one is not.”

Patrick Hynes with the Independent Leadership for New Hampshire PAC running the ad says these claims are not accomplishments, they’re indictments.

“Sen. Hassan says she negotiated the infrastructure bill. She drove a hard bargain … for states like New York, California, and Massachusetts where she gets most of her money. But she left New Hampshire out in the cold. The Granite State ranks dead last in infrastructure dollars,” Hynes said. “It’s disappointing that after all the blind loyalty Hassan has shown to Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer, New Hampshire still finished dead last in infrastructure dollars. It shows where we are on her priority list.”

New polling shows America’s priority is fighting inflation, named the top concern of voters in a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll. And a Fed analysis found the Biden administration’s spending has directly added to inflation pressures. That may explain why a majority (57 percent) of voters — including 28 percent of Democrats — blame Biden.

Hynes, a GOP communications adviser, notes 85 percent of Hassan’s campaign contributions come from out of state, much of it from New York City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

And the ad makes a point that is all-but-certain to be echoed by Republican messaging in next year’s election: Because these bills can only pass with the support of every Democrat, Hassan is the “50th vote” on every dollar spent and every policy put in place. It will be very difficult for her to distance herself from the massive pricetags on these spending packages or individual policies like billions for EV charging stations when she literally could have killed anything she objected to with a single vote.

“Maggie Hassen could’ve gotten us more infrastructure dollars,” the ad concludes, “but she allowed us to be dead last.”

Infrastructure Bill Spends $17M to Charge EVs in NH That Nobody Drives

President Joe Biden came to New Hampshire Tuesday to hit the “local money” message hard: The infrastructure bill means big bucks for Granite State projects.

“Folks, it’s not hyperbole to say your delegation is laser-focused on your needs — the people of New Hampshire,” Biden said Tuesday at the bridge in Woodstock. “The concerns that are discussed around your kitchen tables. This isn’t esoteric. It’s about what happens to ordinary people.”

Ordinary people who drive electric vehicles.

According to a White House press handout for Biden’s trip to Woodstock, N.H., “Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, New Hampshire would expect to receive $17 million over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network in the state. New Hampshire will also have the opportunity to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging in the bill.”

It’s part of the “$7.5 billion to build out the first-ever national network of EV chargers in the United States.”

Spending $17 million on EV charging stations in New Hampshire is an interesting investment of tax money given that, statistically speaking, there aren’t any EVs in New Hampshire. According to vehicle registration data, as of the end of 2020, there were just 2,690 EVs in the entire state.

Taxpayers will be spending $6,319.70 per EV in the Granite State. If the state somehow gets that $2.5 billion in grant funding, it would be more than $833,000 per electric car.

And that’s on top of the general tax subsidies people who buy EVs already get. The federal electric vehicle tax credit program gives up to $7,500 in taxpayer dollars for qualifying purchases. Households earning more than $100,000 collect about 80 percent of those EV kickbacks.

Not that there are a lot of EVs nationwide, either.

Of the more than 276 million vehicles registered in the United States, fewer than 1.5 million are plug-in electric vehicles and another 5.4 million are hybrid electric. That’s less than 2 percent of the registered vehicles on the road, and nearly half of all electric vehicles in the country are in California alone.

In fact, in 2017 more EVs were sold in California than all other states combined.

The EV money is also another example of New Hampshire getting less funding from the infrastructure bill than its neighbors in Vermont. Despite having less than half the Granite State’s population, Vermont will receive $21 million for its EV charging network, or $9,417 per electric vehicle.

All four members of the New Hampshire delegation voted for the $7.5 billion as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Rep. Annie Kuster has pushed to get even more EV charging money in the social programs/green energy reconciliation budget bill.

“Folks, when you see these projects starting in your hometown, I want you to feel what I feel: Pride,” Biden said as he stood on the Green Bridge in Woodstock.

It’s unlikely more than a handful of EVs have ever driven across that span.

Opinion: Biden’s Visit To Small, Rickety Bridge a Perfect Metaphor for His Presidency

The Green Bridge in Woodstock, N.H. is not an impressive sight. A small, insignificant structure — it’s only 30 feet wide and about half the length of a football field —  it isn’t economically vital or historically significant.

In other words, it was the perfect place for President Joe Biden.

New Hampshire Public Radio described the Woodstock bridge as “rickety,” and that’s a pretty good description of the Biden presidency at the moment as well. Everything about Biden’s visit to New Hampshire Tuesday, like the sad, little bridge where he gave his speech, felt patched together.

Unfortunately, the $1 trillion in infrastructure spending won’t fix that, either.

As a light snow fell around him, Biden stumbled over the names of the candidates he came to boost (“Amy Kuster”), stumbled through the facts he came to pitch and gave the sort of stumbling delivery we’ve come to expect from a president who turns 79 on Saturday — just three years younger than “red-listed” bridge he came to rescue.

About halfway through his speech, Biden acknowledged the modesty of his message.

“This isn’t esoteric. This isn’t some gigantic bill,” Biden said. “It’s about what happens to ordinary people, conversations around kitchen tables — as profound as they are ordinary.

“How do I cross the bridge in a snowstorm?” Biden asked. “No, really — think about it. What happens when the bridge collapses and there’s a fire on the other side? It’s going to take 10 miles longer to get to the fire. What does it mean if a school bus or logging truck can’t cross? I mean, this is real stuff, folks.”


If you’ve listened in to any “conversations around the kitchen table” in New Hampshire lately, it’s likely you haven’t heard much about ten-mile detours or rickety bridges. Instead, you’ve probably encountered table-pounding anger over rising prices. Over reports the cost of heating a home in New Hampshire could nearly double this winter. And over the general frustration of dealing with a COVID crisis that President Biden promised to end but instead has mishandled.

Last year, Joe Biden told America, “I’m not going to shut down the country. I’m not going to shut down the economy. I’m going to shut down the virus.”

Today, Biden’s pushing mandates to get workers fired from their jobs, COVID restrictions are once again on the rise, and the virus isn’t close to being “shut down.” The president who embraced an FDR-style re-making of America is instead standing in a rural New Hampshire outpost promising a few, small repairs.

This national moment require far more. Inflation hitting 30-year highs is a huge problem that can endanger the entire economy. And while it’s not the Great Depression, the “Great Resignation” — Americans quitting their jobs in record numbers amid a worker shortage crisis and supply-chain crunch — is a massive economic threat as well.

But other than the price tag, there was nothing “massive” in Biden’s message. There is no obvious connection between the roads, bridges and broadband he was bragging about on the bridge, and the gas prices and empty shelves folks are worrying about back home.

WMUR asked Woodstock resident Guy Hoover about Biden’s message.

“I’m paying $4 a gallon for propane, which is $2 a gallon in most places, to heat my home. I’m on a fixed income, I’m on Social Security, and the way things are going right now, I’m going to have to go and get help to heat my home this winter.”

Sure, for a small state like New Hampshire, $2 billion in new federal funds is a lot of money. And Granite Staters stuck with lousy cell service will be happy for any improvements.

But nobody in New Hampshire will go to bed tonight worrying about potholes and bridge repairs. Not when inflation is rising faster than wages, and store shelves are as empty as Biden’s promises that another trillion or three in federal spending won’t send prices even higher. Not to mention 2 million illegal border crossings, the Afghanistan fiasco, the threat from China, etc. etc.

“When you see these projects starting,” Biden said as he stood on that small, rickety bridge, “I want you to feel what I feel: pride.”

Americans would like to feel that way when they see their president, too.

At the moment, alas, that appears to be a bridge too far.

JOFFE: 2009 Stimulus Bill Offers Cautionary Tales for New Rail Projects

Billions of dollars of federal grants for rail projects will be unlocked now that President Joe Biden has signed the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was recently passed by Congress. New transit and intercity rail lines could, in theory, improve mobility and greenhouse gas emissions by luring passengers away from their personal vehicles. But those projects also face risks of cost overruns, long delays, and disappointing ridership numbers that can undermine their potential benefits. A look back at the last time the federal government doubled down on rail grants, after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, offers some examples of such pitfalls.

ARRA included $8 billion for high-speed rail projects with the biggest grant going to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which planned to build a line connecting San Francisco with Los Angeles and Anaheim at speeds of up to 220-mph. The $33 billion price tag initially estimated for the project was supposed to be split by federal and state governments. And rail proponents claimed the line would lure investment from the private sector. Service was to begin in 2020.

However, over one decade later the projected cost has escalated to around $100 billion, private funding has not materialized, the line will have a slower average speed, and service is expected to start in 2029. along a 171-mile segment in California’s Central Valley connecting a set of smaller cities with residents who are not used to taking the train. The Authority has suffered from cost overruns and construction delays due to difficulties with land acquisition, staff turnover, and poor contractor oversight. So, despite the expenditure of $3.5 billion federal dollars, we are a long way from high-speed rail starting in California, let alone any major reduction in personal vehicle trips.

Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida turned down federal high-speed rail subsidies, but the Washington (State) Department of Transportation was awarded $751 million of federal high-speed rail funds to upgrade service between Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. Despite this funding, train service between Portland and Seattle remains both infrequent and slower than driving on Interstate 5 (service to Vancouver has been disrupted by COVID-19 border controls).

Among the largest federally-funded project components of the Washington DOT initiative is the Point Defiance Bypass, intended to shorten and straighten a segment of the route south of Tacoma. The $89 million project was intended to reduce travel times by ten minutes. But the first passenger train to traverse the new route in 2017 derailed, killing three and injuring 70. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) attributed the accident to insufficient training and a lack of positive train control: the train was traveling 78-mph on a 30-mph curve. Service through the bypass has yet to be restored.

Federal ARRA funding has also yielded disappointing results for transit projects. Perhaps the most egregious case has been that of Honolulu, which has been trying to build a light rail system for years. The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (HART) received $1.8 billion of ARRA funds to help build a 20-mile line connecting the city with its western suburbs. The project was expected to cost $5.1 billion with a completion date of January 2020. 

But the HART project has faced a series of setbacks. Most recently, engineers found the train wheels were incompatible with the track crossings, a problem which is expected to take up to two years to fix. That means service along part of the line could begin next year, assuming there are no further issues. But the entire 20-mile project is not expected to be finished until 2031. Meanwhile, the cost has skyrocketed to over $12 billion.

It should be noted that ARRA funding has helped some transit projects reach the finish line. These include the Second Avenue Subway in New York and Phase 1 of the Washington Metro Silver Line. Although both projects are now serving riders, there have been bumps along the way. 

The Second Avenue Subway’s cost ballooned to almost $4.5 billion, an exorbitant total for two miles of track and three new stations. Meanwhile, the Silver Line extension has not carried as many passengers as originally promised. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority forecast 24,600 average weekday riders would use the new Silver Line stations when it proposed the project, but ridership reached only 16,000 in 2019 before collapsing in the wake of COVID-19 and problems with the system’s rolling stock.

International experience has shown that cost-effective intercity and local transit is possible, but the U.S. has generally not shared in the successes. Now, with billions more earmarked for rail systems across the country, we can only hope that federal grantors and the agencies competing for these grants will learn lessons from past mistakes.

ANALYSIS: Biden’s Visit a ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ for NHDems

President Joe Biden picked New Hampshire as the first stop on his national tour to promote the $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending package. Based on the polls, he’s not doing local Democrats any favors.

“The bill I’m about to sign is proof that despite the cynics, Democrats and Republicans can come together and deliver results,” Biden said at Monday’s White House signing ceremony. The spending proposal garnered the votes of 19 Republicans in the U.S. Senate, 13 in the House, and is polling well with the general public. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds 63 percent of Americans support Washington spending $1 trillion “on roads, bridges and other infrastructure.”

Unfortunately, just 41 percent of Americans in that same poll approve of the job Biden is doing in office. Among independents, 45 percent strongly disapprove. And about 50 percent of suburban voters give Biden a “thumbs down,” too.

In swing states like New Hampshire, the numbers are even worse. When ABC News looked at results in the eight states believed to have the most competitive U.S. Senate races, including New Hampshire, they found Biden’s overall job approval rating was a dismal 33 percent.

Biden’s numbers are killing the polls for the rest of his party. As ABC News reported last weekend, the GOP’s 10-point margin in the “generic ballot” question is the largest in the 40 years the network has asked the question.

The Green Bridge in Woodstock, N.H.

One of the Democrats being hurt by Biden’s sagging polls is Sen. Maggie Hassan, who’s expected to appear with Biden when he stops by a bridge in Woodstock, N.H. to promote the trillions in spending Democrats have passed so far this year. In last month’s poll from the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, Hassan had a 44 percent approval rating — identical to Biden’s.

By comparison, independent Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, who hasn’t backed away from opposing some of the more progressive policies of his fellow Democrats, has an approval rating in West Virginia 28 points higher than Biden’s.

It’s just another data point in the growing evidence that Granite State Democrats’ performance in 2022 is likely to closely track that of the party as a whole. And every appearance by Biden will help more closely tie local Democrats like Hassan and U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas to the president and the national party.

Not everyone believes that is bad news.

“It is significant that President Biden has picked New Hampshire for his first stop after signing the infrastructure legislation,” veteran N.H. Democratic strategist Jim Demers told NHJournal. “It highlights the importance of bipartisanship, it’s been a long time since such a significant vote included the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell.

“And the backdrop of the Green Bridge in Woodstock symbolizes one important aspect of the bill, funding for roads and bridges all across the country, many that have been in dangerous disrepair for years. Infrastructure has been talked about in Washington for a long time but you have to hand it to President Biden, he got it done.”

Hassan has tried to build on the bipartisan message, too. Her press releases are filled with the “B” word — sometimes four such press announcements celebrating ‘bipartisanship’ in a single day. But Hassan has largely voted with her party leadership, including on the latest trillion-dollar spending package. And there are already Democrat-funded ads touting her support for the “Build Back Better” social welfare/green energy policy spending proposal the House is expected to pass this week.

And then there’s that most problematic of questions around the president’s visit: What’s the point?

Partisans will debate the various elements of the bipartisan infrastructure bill Biden signed on Monday. But what do billions for roads, bridges, broadband and electric car chargers have to with the issues Granite Staters are actually worried about: inflation, energy prices and the worker shortage?

New Hampshire has among the highest percentage of homes heated by oil and propane in the nation. They’re looking at price hikes this winter of 50 percent or more. What is the Biden administration doing to drive those costs down?

New Hampshire has one of the lowest rates of unemployment and employers are running ads pleading for workers to return to the workforce. And Joe Biden is coming to New Hampshire to brag about spending billions to create even more competition for scare workers?

The same with inflation, which isn’t going to be helped by increased government demand for goods and services. That’s the Biden pitch?

Once again, this infrastructure spending may be needed. It may be a smart investment. But it’s almost entirely unconnected from the voters’ priorities of the moment. It’s as if your house is on fire, and Joe Biden pulls into the driveway in a new car he says was a great deal. It may be. But it won’t help put out the fire.

Hassan will be standing right by President Biden at the Woodstock Bridge. How is this a winning strategy in a state where Biden’s approval has collapsed and not a single elected Democrat has 50 percent statewide approval? Heading into a midterm election in which the GOP has record-setting polls?

“What else can she do?” a Granite State Democratic strategist told NHJournal. “Her fate is tied to Biden and the Democrats. It’s too late to pull a ‘Manchin.’ She has to count on the calendar — there’s still a year until the election.”

At least one Republican agrees. “A year is an eternity in politics,” says GOP strategist Tom Rath. “She’ll be tougher than folks think.”

She’ll need to be. The last time a GOP wave hit New Hampshire, the 2010 backlash to Obamacare, Republicans won the U.S. Senate and both House seats. Wildly-popular Democratic Gov. John Lynch held on with less than 53 percent of the vote.

And even Hassan’s biggest boosters concede: She’s no John Lynch.

What Did Kuster and Pappas Actually Vote For? Deficit Spending And A Vehicle Mileage Tax.

On Friday night, the media coverage was dominated by the question: “Will she or won’t she?” Would Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) get the votes she needed to pass the “BIF” — the bipartisan infrastructure bill?

Now that it has passed in the House by a 228-206 vote, with 13 Republicans voting in favor and six Democrats voting against it, it’s time for another question:

What the heck did Congress just vote for?

All four members of the New Hampshire delegation voted for the $1.2 trillion spending plan. (Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen voted for it nearly three months ago. It was trapped in the House since.)

Most of the coverage of the “BIF” has focused on the traditional infrastructure spending, including:

— $110 billion in funding for roads, bridges, and major projects;

— $66 billion investment in rail, most of which will go to Amtrak;

— $65 billion for broadband infrastructure and development;

— $7.5 billion for electric vehicle chargers.

That’s certainly the focus of Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas. “Investments in our roads and bridges, water systems, and broadband are critical to our future economic growth and way of life in New Hampshire, and they will help us continue to rebuild our economy and regain our competitiveness following the COVID-19 pandemic,” Pappas said after the vote.

Pappas specifically touted the more than $1.5 billion in the additional road, bridge, and transit spending over the next five years, “representing a 47 percent funding increase in fiscal year 2022 and additional increases in years to come.”

Who could object to a nearly 50 percent jump in spending on roads? And cell phone users who travel the Granite State are likely pleased by the idea that their notoriously spotty service might improve.

But these are the headlines of Friday’s late-night vote. In the fine-print, Granite Staters will find New Hampshire’s delegation also voted for:

More Deficit Spending

Despite repeated assurances from President Joe Biden that infrastructure spending “costs zero dollars,” the BIF  costs more than $1 trillion. What Biden meant, his allies say, is that it won’t cost any borrowed dollars, that Americans can feel good that neither of his infrastructure bills will add to the deficit.

Unfortunately, they’re wrong on that count as well. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published its score of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (as opposed to the much-bigger reconciliation) in August, and they found the legislation would directly add more than $340 billion to the deficit.

A Vehicle Mileage User Fee Pilot Program

SEC. 13002 of the bill is the “National Moter Vehicle Per-Mile User Fee Pilot Program.” The objectives of the program, according to the legislation, are to “test the design, acceptance, implementation, and financial sustainability of a national motor vehicle per-mile user fee” and “address the need for additional revenues for surface transportation infrastructure.”

Critics of the program point to the phrase “additional revenue” as opposed to “replacing revenue.” They say it’s a sign the goal is to add a mileage tax on top of the current gasoline taxes, rather than to replace them. And, they note, a mileage tax takes away one of the few incentives to drive an electric car — namely, lower costs.

Biden’s defenders say it’s just a pilot program and the administration has no (announced) plans to impose such a national fee. The pilot might encourage individual states to pursue it, however. Just as the state of New York has passed a ban on the sale of regular internal-combustion engine cars as of 2035. Every car sold as of that date in New York must be a zero-emissions vehicle.

EV Chargers for Electric Cars That Don’t Exist

Speaking of EVs…

The $7.5 billion Congress just passed for electric vehicle (EV) chargers is, according to the White House, just a down payment on the funding needed to install 500,000 public EV charging stations by 2030.

The question is, who’s going to use them?

First, from a statistical standpoint, virtually nobody owns EVs in the U.S. As climate expert Matthew Lewis recently noted, of the 280 million or so registered cars and trucks in the country, only about 2 million are fully electric. Even if the nation added another 2 million electric vehicles a year — which would be a sales level far beyond anything the nation has seen — there would still be fewer than 15 million EVs on the road — still a tiny fraction of the total.

And then there’s the charger technology. In a recent interview for Emerging Tech, EV expert Brendan Jones, president of Blink Charging, talked about the chargers this tax money will buy:

“Jones said that in a good scenario, it takes about six months for an L2 charger—which need up to 8 hours to fully charge a car and make up 82 percent of public chargers in the U.S.—to go through permitting and get in the ground. Meanwhile, a D.C. fast charger (also known as an L3 charger) takes 60 to 90 minutes to charge a car, but can take considerably longer to build.”

How many drivers can park in a public lot for 8 hours to charge their cars? Or even for 90 minutes?

Advancing The Controversial Reconciliation Spending Bill

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the House cast a straight party-line vote to move Biden’s so-called “Build Back Better” bill forward. It was a key step to get to what Pelosi says will be a vote before Thanksgiving on the legislation itself.

That’s the $4 trillion plan that includes massive social spending and more than half a billion on green energy policy. In the new Suffolk University poll for USA Today released Sunday, Americans are split on this bill, with just 47 supporting it and 44 percent in opposition. And only one in four Americans says they believe it will help them and their families.

Which brings up perhaps the most relevant fact about the votes cast for the infrastructure bill by New Hampshire’s congressional delegation: They didn’t address the issues Americans care about most.

Inflation. Bare store shelves. A lack of workers. The lingering impacts of COVID on daily lives, particularly on schools and children. Those are the things voters said last week brought them to the polls. Notably absent: Road and bridge construction, train travel, or the Green New Deal.

Even if Americans were in the mood to add billions to the national debt, there isn’t much information to show Americans would want to borrow this much money for EV chargers and Amtrack trains.

As Trump Turns to Infrastructure Policy, So Do Sununu, NH Legislature

While all eyes were glued to former FBI director James Comey’s testimony in Congress last week, it appears that President Donald Trump has moved on to infrastructure reform, and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu and New Hampshire lawmakers are following suit.

Last week, the White House held a series of events to promote its infrastructure policy, including proposals to streamline federal regulations, reform air traffic control, and rebuild the nation’s roads and bridges.

Sununu met Thursday with President Donald Trump, other governors, mayors, and tribal leaders at an infrastructure summit in Washington.

“It’s going to take off like a rocket ship — moving very quickly. Together, we’re going to rebuild America,” Trump said according to a transcript of his remarks from the White House.

Trump is pitching a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that would combine about $200 billion in federal funding with an additional $800 billion in state, local, and private money. The bill is not written yet and it’s not clear when Congress will take up the issue.

“For too long, Washington has slowed down your projects and driven up your costs, and driven them up beyond anything even recognizable. Those days are over,” Trump said. “We are going to move quickly, we’re going to move very, very intelligently, and we’re going to get the job done, under budget and ahead of schedule — something the government doesn’t hear too much.”

Sununu told the New Hampshire Union Leader after the summit that he believes a comprehensive infrastructure plan could win bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.

“We have a President who is a builder, someone who not only knows how to get things done and bring plans to fruition but also someone who has faced how federal agencies can slow down or even block his progress,” Sununu said. “I think you’re going to see this become a major priority of his, making the federal government more of a partner and less of a barrier to these projects becoming a reality.”

Critics are questioning how committed Trump is to getting an infrastructure bill passed this year, since he hasn’t appointed anyone to key infrastructure positions within his administration yet. Democrats mostly agree with Republicans on infrastructure, but without a bill to judge, they say the devil will be in the details.

Vice President Mike Pence says it’s a campaign promise Trump will follow through on since the state of infrastructure in the United States is “not just unacceptable,” but “downright un-American.”

“This president knows that good infrastructure means good jobs, growth, opportunity, and prosperity. But as all of you well know, our nation’s infrastructure is in a truly sorry state,” Pence said. “You see it when you drive to work, you hear about it from the people who elected you. The truth is that our roads, bridges, and airports are crumbling in too many cases. And America, as a result, has been falling behind.”

Granite Staters are very familiar with the delay and cost increase of infrastructure in the state. Take the widening of Interstate 93 from Massachusetts to Manchester as an example. Sununu’s father, former Gov. John H. Sununu, started the process to widen the 20-mile stretch of highway to eight lanes when he was in the Corner Office in the mid-1980s. The estimated cost at the time was about $200 million.

Due to permitting delays, a lack of a stable funding source, and environmental studies, the project has been delayed for more than 20 years and the cost is now expected to be about $812 million.

“We made the point to the administration we’d take 70 percent of resources the federal government gives us now if that money would come without the inevitable delays in permits and the time to get into compliance with federal rules,” Sununu said.

According to a survey from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released earlier this year, the state’s overall infrastructure grade was a C-minus, due to the lack of time and investment the state has made into its projects. The score was only slightly higher than the United States’ grade, which was a D-plus.

The GOP-controlled legislature agreed on a number of bills last week to improve upon the state’s crumbling infrastructure.

The Senate concurred with a House amendment that would send $38 million from last year’s budget surplus back to cities and towns, so they can use it for road and bridge work. The state currently has about 150 red-listed bridges that are in poor condition and must be inspected every two years. The ASCE found that 492 of New Hampshire’s 3,848 bridges — approximately 13 percent – were structurally deficient.

The N.H. Department of Transportation will spend $6.8 million on those red-listed bridges and the rest will be sent directly to the communities.

The legislature also agreed on Senate Bill 57 that would spend $250 million from the state’s Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund to allow businesses with contaminated well water to get state loans to hook up to public water supplies.

“This bill allows the state to make good on its commitment to pay for water contamination mitigation projects from years ago that had been suspended. Communities across the state continue to face a growing issue of contaminants in their drinking water,” said Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, the prime sponsor of the bill.  “It is imperative that our residents have access to clean drinking water for the future of our public health and as we continue to grow business and jobs in the state.”

Those bills now head to Sununu’s desk for his signature.

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New Hampshire’s Infrastructure is in Jeopardy. What is the Legislature Doing About It?

New Hampshire’s infrastructure is crumbling, and it’s not just the state’s roads and bridges. A total of 12 infrastructure categories received a “mediocre” or “poor” rating, according to a Wednesday survey by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), highlighting the lack of time and investment the state has made into these projects.

Overall, the state’s infrastructure grade was a C-minus, which is a decrease from the last time the engineers conducted a survey of the state. In 2011, the state earned a C.

New Hampshire’s new grade is slightly higher than the United States’ grade, which was a D-plus.

“New Hampshire’s infrastructure is living on borrowed time thanks to past generations’ investments,” said Logan Johnson, chairman of the Report Card for New Hampshire’s Infrastructure. “We’re not investing in the maintenance and modernization our infrastructure needs to support a thriving economy.”

A team of professional engineers from across the state assessed the 12 categories and found these areas need upgrades to stay operational:


Credit: American Society of Civil Engineers Report Card for New Hampshire’s Infrastructure

The state’s energy and airport systems received the best score with a C-plus, but the ports, wastewater, and storm water systems scored the lowest grade with a D-plus.

Much of the focus at the legislative level will be on roads and bridges.

According to the state Department of Transportation (DOT), there are about 17,000 miles of roads in the state. The ASCE says there are 3,848 bridges, including 2,160 state bridges, and 1,688 municipal bridges in New Hampshire.

The state also has about 150 red-listed bridges, meaning they are in poor condition, must be inspected every two years, and be at the top of the state’s priority list of funds for repair or replacement. The ASCE found that 492 of New Hampshire’s 3,848 bridges — approximately 13 percent – were structurally deficient.

Gov. Chris Sununu has been a big proponent of improving the state’s infrastructure. In his budget, he proposed creating a $84 million Infrastructure Revitalization Fund to address some of the problems identified in the ASCE’s report, like with bridges and roads.

“This is one of the highest numbers in the country of red listed bridges,” he said during his gubernatorial campaign. “These are where our priorities need to go. Infrastructure is absolutely critical in a small state like New Hampshire, a state that’s centralized to the entire New England region. We have to get our priorities straight and we have to make tough decisions to get those projects done.”

The problem is that the estimated cost to repair or replace some of the red-list bridges is more than six times the amount Sununu proposed. That’s something Victoria Sheehan, commissioner of the N.H. DOT, said would happen if infrastructure funding is constantly kicked down the road in the legislature.

“When we defer investment, it can cost three or four times as much to get back to the same level condition,” she recently told New Hampshire Public Radio. “So, for example, if we can keep up with pavement conditioning, doing pavement preservation treatments, that’s a much lower cost in maintaining the infrastructure. Once [roads have] deteriorated, to do a full reconstruction or rehabilitation can cost a lot more money to the taxpayer. We are so underfunded at times, we make those per investment choices that end up costing more in the long run.”

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, (D-N.H.), reintroduced legislation in the Senate that would begin to address the more than 56,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. The Strengthen and Fortify Existing Bridges (SAFE Bridges) Act, which was also cosponsored by New Hampshire’s other Democratic senator, Maggie Hassan, would establish a program to provide funding specifically for repairing and replacing structurally deficient bridges. It would authorize an additional $2.75 billion annually through 2020 to enable state’s to fix their bridges and funding would be allocated through a needs-based formula according to their share of the nation’s deficient bridges.

“The condition of New Hampshire’s bridges is unacceptable,” Shaheen said in a statement. “Their disrepair hurts our economy, increases traffic, adds wear and tear to vehicles, and puts public safety at risk. The consequences of bridge failures are catastrophic and it is critical that Congress prioritize this infrastructure. My legislation provides a long overdue initial investment to help repair and replace New Hampshire’s structurally deficient bridges while putting Granite Staters to work.”

The ASCE survey also found that the state’s dams were increasingly at risk of being structurally deficient. About 60 percent of New Hampshire dams were built before modern dam safety engineering standards were developed.

The “years of inattention” resulted in shoddy conditions at many of the state’s ports and extensive flooding could happen unless the state makes some adjustments in how it manages storm water.

The Legislature recently made drinking water and storm water a priority during this legislative session. Both areas need improvement, according to the ASCE survey, which gave New Hampshire’s drinking water a C-minus and storm water a D-plus. The Senate is working on legislation that would give more funds to cities and towns to improve their drinking water, after recent developments which found high traces of harmful chemicals in several seacoast towns’ water supply. Sununu also is hoping the Environmental Protection Agency rolls back some storm water regulations poised to go into effect that could cost municipalities millions of dollars to comply.

The ASCE report notes that in order for the state to meet its infrastructure needs, “lawmakers need to pursue consistent policies and funding sources to ensure sustained support for infrastructure and enable long-term planning. The state needs to pursue more locally sourced funding for infrastructure, rather than relying so heavily on federal funding and financing to supplement the state’s budget for infrastructure investment.”

The report also called for consistent policy and funding sources and for the state to to pursue “more locally sourced funding,” like fully funding the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, identifying “dependable, long-term sources of funding” for the cleanup of contaminated sites, and considering a toll increase to finance major turnpike projects.

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