2017 NH Report Card in the News
April 08, 2017
NH gets C-minus for infrastructure funding; does well in energy, aviation
By MICHAEL COUSINEAU. New Hampshire Union Leader
A civil engineering association gave New Hampshire a C-minus for its infrastructure, recommending spending hundreds of millions of dollars for upgrades.
"There's a huge lack of funding for infrastructure over the last 20 to 30 years, and it's catching up to us now," said Logan Johnson, chairman of the report card committee for the New Hampshire section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The 37-page report said it was designed to spark a conversation among residents and policymakers on areas to improve, from aviation to wastewater.
"While the overall grades are disappointing, they are not surprising," said state Transportation Commissioner Victoria Sheehan. "We are very pleased to see that the grades given to New Hampshire are in line with what we have been trying to explain to the Legislature and to the public over the last several years."
Fulfilling the report's recommendations "remains a funding issue," said DOT spokesman Bill Boynton. "Even as we focus on maintaining and preserving as well as improving the existing system, we have a significant backlog of needs created by many years of deferred maintenance."
More than $397 million is earmarked for transportation infrastructure this fiscal year, which runs through June 30. Funding includes $165 million from the federal government as well as additional funds from the state gas tax, vehicle registration and turnpike tolls.
The civil engineering association also conducted a national poll, which didn't grade all the same subject matters as the New Hampshire report. The nation earned a D-plus rating.
In January, Reuters said a poll it commissioned showed 51 percent of respondents didn't want a higher tax bill to pay to rebuild aging roads and bridges, while 56 percent said they didn't want the government to borrow money either. Some 50 percent said motorists should pay tolls and user fees, but 41 percent didn't want that type of funding.
New Hampshire scored best for aviation, energy and solid waste, with all C-pluses. Its worst grades, all D-pluses, came in stormwater, wastewater and ports.
Receiving C-minus grades were bridges, dams, drinking water, rail and roads. Hazardous waste received a C mark.
The eight criteria used to produce a grade for each category included funding, condition, future need and public safety.
The last report, in 2011, gave New Hampshire a C grade, but it is not a direct comparison because some sections were added or dropped. The schools category, for instance, was dropped in this report because of a lack of recent data on the condition of school infrastructure.
The report said infrastructure investments at the state's 25 public airports will exceed available funding by $100 million to $200 million over the next 20 years.
Nearly four of five state-owned bridges were built before 1980. And as of late 2015, 12.8 percent of the bridges were deemed structurally deficient.
Wastewater scored a D-plus for a lack of sustainable funding.
"New Hampshire must address the artificially low sewer rates most utilities charge," the report said. "Sewer rates should be based on the sustainability of the utilities' assets, the ability to meet new regulatory requirements and maintenance of adequate reserves to pay for emergency work."
Johnson, a civil engineer with Geosyntec in Bedford, said a committee of nearly two dozen experts and volunteers worked on New Hampshire's report card.
April 07, 2017
Statement from Representative Ann McLane Kuster
Every single day thousands of Granite Staters, first responders, and commercial vehicles travel on bridges and roads in dire need of repair," said Congresswoman Kuster. "These conditions not only hurt our economic competitiveness as a state, they also risk public safety. Restoring our aging infrastructure is commonsense and would put Granite Staters to work improving our roads, bridges, and municipal facilities. I'm ready to get to work to pass a long term highway funding bill so we can start bringing our infrastructure into the 21st century.
April 05, 2017
Statement from Senator Maggie Hassan
“A strong, modern infrastructure system is integral to our way of life and to our economy in the Granite State. I was proud as Governor to work across party lines to move forward with the first major new investments in our highway system, including securing the funding to expand Interstate 93 and to fix a number of red-list bridges. This report card underscores the importance of that effort, and reinforces that more work remains to be done for New Hampshire to remain competitive in the 21st century economy. As a member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, I will continue working across the aisle to strengthen our transportation infrastructure, which in turn will help support our innovative businesses and spur economic development throughout the state.”
April 05, 2017
N.H.'s Bridges, Roads and Other Infrastructure in Rough Shape, Report Says
By Hannah McCarthy, NHPR
The American Society of Civil Engineers has released their 2017 report card on New Hampshire’s infrastructure -- and the state is far from the honor roll.
Roads, bridges, dams and waste water were among the twelve infrastructure categories graded by New Hampshire’s civil engineers for their report – and across the board, things are mediocre or worse. The study awarded the state a C-minus overall, citing aging, deteriorating bridges, ill-equipped wastewater treatment plants, and unreliable energy sources. The only category to see marked improvement since the last ASCE evaluation in 2011 is solid waste disposal, which received a C-plus. You can read the full 2017 report here.
Department of Transportation Commissioner Victoria Sheehan says that while the grades are disappointing, they aren't surprising.
"We were very pleased," Sheehan said, "to see that the grades given to New Hampshire are in line with what we have trying to explain to the legislature and to the public over the last several years."
Governor Chris Sununu has proposed creating a $84 million infrastructure revitalization fund, to address some of the problems identified in the engineers’ report. The estimated cost to repair or replace just the worst of the state-owned bridges is more than six times that amount of money.
April 05, 2017
New Hampshire Infrastructure Needs Upgrades, Money
By MICHAEL CASEY, Associated Press
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire's roads and bridges are suffering from years of neglect and require extensive funding to upkeep, according to results released Wednesday by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which gave the state's infrastructure a grade of C-minus.
The state's airports and energy systems scored best with a C-plus, while its ports, wastewater and storm water systems scored a D-plus.
The report follows a nationwide report last month that gave United States' infrastructure a D-plus.
"New Hampshire's infrastructure is living on borrowed time thanks to past generations' investments," said Logan Johnson, chair 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."
Among the findings were that 492 of New Hampshire's 3,848 bridges — or, nearly 13 percent — were structurally deficient and that risk was increasing for dams. It also concluded that "years of inattention" have resulted in substandard conditions at many of the state's ports and that extensive flooding will happen unless the state changes its managing storm water approach.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen noted that the nationwide report card found that nearly four in 10 bridges are 50 years or older. On Wednesday, she reintroduced a bill in the Senate that aims to address 56,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country, calling the condition of New Hampshire's bridges "unacceptable."
Victoria F. Sheehan, the state's transportation commissioner, said she was hopeful the renewed attention might inspire funding. She said the grades are "in line with what we have been trying to explain to the legislature and the public over the last several years."
"Ultimately, we have to spend more if the public's expectations are for better services and facilities," she said.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has pledged to invest tens of millions in repairing roads, bridges and schools and the legislature has included money for infrastructure in its two-year, $11.9 billion spending plan. That budget is now in doubt after it was defeated Wednesday.
Along with calling for consistent policy and funding sources, the report recommends the state pursue "more locally sourced funding."
It also recommends fully funding the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, identifying "dependable, long-term sources of funding" for the cleanup of contaminated sites, developing a master plan for the Pease Development Authority's Division of Ports and Harbors and considering a toll increase to help finance major turnpike projects.
April 05, 2017
In report card, civil engineers give New Hampshire infrastructure a C- Investment, upgrades needed across the board, they say
NH Business Review
When it comes to New Hampshire’s overall infrastructure, there’s plenty of room for improvement, according to the New Hampshire section of the American Society of Civil Engineers, which has released its 2017 infrastructure report card. The grade: a C-.
It’s a passing grade, but in 2011, the last time the organization graded the state’s infrastructure, New Hampshire earned a C.
The grade was determined by a team of professional engineers from across New Hampshire who assessed 12 categories of infrastructure. And they found that much of the state’s infrastructure requires investment and upgrades to keep up with its needs: Aviation (C+), Bridges (C-), Dams (C-), Drinking Water (C-), Energy (C+), Hazardous Waste (C), Ports (D+), Rail (C-), Roads (C-), Solid Waste (C+), Stormwater (D+) and Wastewater (D+).
In other words, it’s not the kind of report card that you’d be happy to show your parents, let alone taxpayers.
“New Hampshire’s infrastructure is living on borrowed time thanks to past generations’ investments,” said Logan Johnson, chair of the Report Card for New Hampshire’s Infrastructure and an engineer with Geosyntec. “We’re not investing in the maintenance and modernization our infrastructure needs to support a thriving economy, and instead we’re paying the price in other ways.”
In delivering the report card, the organization pointed out some challenges facing the state and its infrastructure:
• Despite a 4.2-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase in 2014, however there are still unmet needs, as the effectiveness of a gas tax continues to decline because vehicle mileage per gallon and alternative fuel vehicles continue to erode the revenue generated.
• Airport capital investment needs for the next 20 years exceed the available funding by $100 million to $200 million.
• Nearly 80 percent of all state-owned bridges were built prior to 1980. As of December 2015, 12.8 percent of the bridges in state were considered structurally deficient.
• Dams that are not maintained in good operational order can fail and cause loss of life and economic damage. Some 60 percent of New Hampshire dams were build before modern dam safety engineering standards were developed.
• Much of the current energy infrastructure – including distribution systems, source of supply infrastructure, water treatment facilities, and pumping facilities – is in need of upgrades or replacement, with a 10-year investment need of approximately $857 million.
• The demands on municipal stormwater management continue to increase, with aging stormwater infrastructure handling greater flows than they were originally designed for.
• Wastewater infrastructure assets were not designed to serve today’s population, do not meet new regulatory requirements, and are not replaced at the end of their lifespan, resulting in increased costs and rising probability of failure.
The 2011 report card included a grade for school infrastructure, but because of a lack of recent available data on the condition of New Hampshire public school infrastructure, the school section was not included this year.
ASCE-NH noted in its report that among the ways 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.” In addition, “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.”
April 05, 2017
Following NH Infrastructure Report, Shaheen Reintroduces Legislation to Repair Aging Bridges: “The condition of New Hampshire’s bridges is unacceptable”
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has reintroduced legislation that would begin to address the more than 56,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. The Strengthen and Fortify Existing Bridges Act (SAFE Bridges), co-sponsored by Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Angus King (I-ME), would establish a program to provide funding specifically dedicated to repairing and replacing bridges categorized as structurally deficient. In its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave our nation’s bridge network a barely passing grade of C+. Today, the 2017 New Hampshire Infrastructure Report Card was released giving New Hampshire’s bridge network a C-, below the national average. According to ASCE, nearly four in 10 of the nation’s bridges are 50 years or older and each day there are 188 million vehicle trips across these aging structures.
“The condition of New Hampshire’s bridges is unacceptable,” said Senator Shaheen. “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.”
“Failure to fix our aging bridges threatens public safety and hurts our economy,” Senator Hassan said. “I am proud to cosponsor this important legislation to provide much needed funding to repair bridges. This common-sense legislation will help strengthen transportation infrastructure and support New Hampshire businesses while creating good jobs for hard-working Granite Staters.”
In New Hampshire, more than 400 bridges are listed as structurally deficient or in poor condition. The SAFE Bridges Act would authorize an additional $2.75 billion annually through FY2020 to enable states to repair and replace their structurally deficient bridges. The bill uses bill a needs-based formula to provide states with funding levels according to their share of the nation’s deficient bridges.