A recent failure to pass a bill that would have provided states with federal highway money is making New Hampshire Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen nervous. Congress has not yet reauthorized the federal highway bill and House Republicans want to cut funds by 35 percent.
For New Hampshire that would be a loss of at least $115 million. The uncertainty about the future of the funding means New Hampshire and other states cannot move forward with their major transportation projects.
For New Hampshire, not being able to count on those funds could mean a halt to the widening of Interstate 93 — a highway some officials say has the potential to bring in big money to the state and is “paved with gold.”Supporters of the expansion point out that I-93 was built in the 1960s and is straining under 57 percent more traffic than it was built to sustain.
“Growing congestion along I-93 has become a barrier to local business growth and a danger to public safety,” says Shaheen, who tried unsuccessfully to broker a bipartisan agreement to restore the federal funding.
But Shaheen’s plan lacked support from Senate Republicans.
Without that money, says New Hampshire Transportation Commissioner Christopher Clement, “There will no more projects on I-93.”
So far there is no sign that Congress will reauthorize the federal highway money before next spring, and that means New Hampshire will be forced to postpone its ambitious I-93 project.