By John Toole
---- — The state of New Hampshire is expanding its highway Safety Patrol.
The governor and Executive Council approved the expansion this month. The patrol is now operating in Nashua, Merrimack, Bedford, Hooksett and Concord.
The expansion brings in the F.E. Everett Turnpike.
The patrol aids stranded motorists.
“The goal of the patrol is to reduce the potential for significant traffic tie-ups by clearing minor incidents, removing debris and assisting motorists in need of minor repairs,” Department of Transportation spokesman William Boynton said in announcing the expansion. The patrol alerts the DOT traffic management center, which then communicates with state police and emergency responders.
The state has had a patrol on Interstate 93 from Salem to Manchester for five years and branched out to Interstate 95 from Portsmouth to Seabrook two years ago.
It has averaged about 100 roadside stops per month.
The patrol also operates on the Spaulding Turnpike to Exit 5 outside of summer months. The expanded patrol started Thursday.
It includes the Route 101 interchange in Bedford, the I-292 and I-93 interchange in Hooksett, and continues to Exit 14 on I-93 in Concord.
Operating hours are 5 to 8 a.m. and 3:30 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with evening hours extended to 9 p.m. on Friday. The patrol also operates from 2 to 8 p.m. on Sunday and there is some extra coverage for holidays. State Farm has sponsored the program since 2012.
“The program demonstrates our good neighbor commitment to helping people manage the risks of everyday life and recover from the unexpected,” State Farm vice president Matthew S. Hodson said. DOT has collected and posted dozens of anonymous traveler testimonials.
“Thank you for the help. I had a flat tire on I-93 and your employee stopped; he was pleasant and very helpful and put on my spare tire. I am 82 years old and would not have been able to do that myself,” one wrote.
“I was having a bad day to begin with and then I ran out of gas on the highway on my way to work. Big huge thanks to Ed who was able to give me a little gas to get to the next exit to fill up. This service is really helpful when you need it most, thank you so much for providing this service,” another I-93 traveler wrote.
“My name is John, I am deaf. My car broke down on I-93 northbound in Salem, N.H. The Service Patrol treated me very well. I tried to tip him, but he would not accept it. He called AAA for me and I was pleased with the service,” a man wrote.