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December 8, 2012

Funding hunt on to complete I-93 widening project

A key funding question for Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan and the new Legislature involves the Interstate 93 widening.

On the campaign trail, Hassan spoke about the need to finish widening I-93, but said that had to be part of a larger discussion of the budget and highway funding.

Those discussions are only now beginning in Concord.

“Gov.-elect Hassan believes we must move forward with finishing the I-93 expansion and addressing other infrastructure challenges throughout the state,” aide Marc Goldberg said.

Last week, Hassan announced a transportation outreach team to solicit input from communities as she prepares a budget to address priorities and aims to create jobs.

She named Bill Parnell, president of the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, to the panel.

“My transportation outreach team will leverage their expertise from the public and private sectors to help identify our needs and outline ideas for a long-term infrastructure strategy,” Hassan said in announcing appointments.

Departing Gov. John Lynch includes the I-93 widening in his list of priorities for the state.

“I think it’s foolish as a state not to go forward aggressively to the widening of I-93,” Lynch said.

He maintains the project would be an economic boon to the state, opening up development opportunities.

Another $250 million is needed to complete the widening to Manchester.

“We just have to develop the consensus around how we are going to fund it,” Lynch said.

He expressed regret over the repeal of a $30 motor vehicle registration surcharge he said could have largely financed the work. Lynch opposed repeal.

Other possible funding options Lynch predicted would be discussed are gas tax and highway toll hikes.

Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, reappointed as Senate Finance chairman last week, isn’t sure that will happen.

“I don’t know if those will be discussed this year,” Morse said.

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