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December 8, 2012

Funding hunt on to complete I-93 widening project

(Continued)

He prefers another option.

“Gaming will be discussed,” Morse said. “That’s how I think it should be done.”

Revenue from expanded gaming initially was projected as high as $150 million for the state, but Morse said that figure likely would be lower with competition from Massachusetts.

Lynch has opposed expanded gaming, but Hassan is open to allowing it.

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Chris Clement isn’t presenting a specific recommendation on funding.

“We are revenue agnostic and simply presenting the need for investment,” Clement said. “The Legislature determines if and what the funding source will be, not the NHDOT.”

Patrick Moody, spokesman for AAA Northern New England, said there is a looming highway funding shortfall for New Hampshire.

“Not only is there a need for funding for the widening, but also for the maintenance of the current system,” Moody said.

Help from Washington is no certainty either, although President Obama has pushed creation of an infrastructure bank to finance projects.

“The fiscal outlook in Washington, on transportation and all other spending items, is murky at best,” Moody said. “Transportation spending will be affected by a grand bargain, deficit reduction-tax reform deal.”

Those talks among Republicans and Democrats in Congress are expected to take place throughout next year.

The state is ready, if Washington delivers help.

Earlier this year, the Legislature adopted a proposal from Sen. Jim Rausch, R-Derry, that established a mechanism to issue $250 million in bonds in anticipation of federal highway grants.

Lynch also advocates building the highway out to eight lanes, instead of six, and finishing the job in three or four years to take advantage of reduced construction costs in the slow economy.

He said he is confident highway and environmental officials could reach agreement for that work to take place.

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