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2018 WTS-Boston September Luncheon Recap

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Frank Monkiewicz Photography

Written by: Heather Scranton, Haley & Aldrich, Inc.

On September 19th, WTS Boston welcomed New Hampshire DOT Commissioner Victoria Sheehan to talk about “Today, Tomorrow and Forever - New Hampshire’s Transportation Infrastructure.”  Sheehan noted that New Hampshire faces transportation issues similar to those in  the Commonwealth, as well as its own challenges and opportunities. 

Ms. Sheehan highlighted how transportation excellence is fundamental to New Hampshire DOT’s mission to provide for economic development, safety, and interconnectedness.  Helping her execute her mission are 1,650 dedicated employees.   The DOT manages over 3,700 state and municipal bridges, 4,600+ miles of roadway, 12 public transit systems, 10 intercity bus routes, 3 commercial airports, 25 public airports, one of which is the Alton Bay Ice Runway (yes, ice runway!).  The airports generate $1.16 billion in economic output, over 9,200 jobs, and $27.9 million in tax revenue.  The DOT also manages approximately 460 miles of active rail road that moves 5,600,000 tons of freight including 321,000 tons of exported products and goods (95% of which is aggregate), and 780,000 tons of imported coal, petroleum, cement, lumber, cement and chemicals.  

In addition to moving NH people and goods, the transportation network connects countless tourists to the state’s mountains, beaches, and lakes.  Some of the attractions are  transportation facilities including:  the Mount Washington Cog Railway, which carries passengers to the top of Mount Washington; the Conway Scenic Railway, running through the Mount Washington valley; the Downeaster, travelling through New Hampshire; and the Kancamagus Highway.  Many of the old, abandoned rail lines have been converted to multi-use recreational paths.  Sheehan also noted that off-road trails and roads in the north country are seeing increased use by visitors and ATV vehicles.  Some of these ATV vehicles end up on main streets, requiring the need to balance the transportation challenges with the economic activity these bring.  Related to sharing the streets and given the state’s focus on recreation and tourism, Sheehan explained that many cities and towns have already incorporated many aspects of Complete Streets, even though this is not an official state mandate. 

Looking toward the future, Sheehan explained New Hampshire’s 10-year planning process for future DOT projects. The 10-year plan becomes state legislation and is reviewed/revised every two years.  Before Sheehan’s tenure, the 10-year plan was overprogrammed and overpromised, and therefore underdelivered.  Sheehan has focused on producing realistic 10-year plans that are more “constrained”, while at the same time setting targets to measure the DOT’s performance and agency’s ability to deliver projects.  The current 10-year plan includes a budget of $3.7 billion which has a large focus on pavement, bridges and legacy projects such as the I-93 expansion project.  The NHDOT expects to advertise about $159 M in construction projects this year and some major projects are in the works, including the I-93 Exit 4A project and two bridges over the Connecticut River in 2019. 

Sheehan is also assisting with establishing a new, local New Hampshire WTS chapter.  This is important to WTS-Boston and many instrumental members are part of the push to develop the NH chapter.  We look forward to hearing more from Commissioner Sheehan and the good work she continues to execute at NHDOT and hopefully news of a New Hampshire WTS chapter event very soon!

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To see more photos from the event check out the WTS-Boston 2018 September Luncheon photo album here.

 

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