Executive Council nearing decision on tolls, accelerated highway construction, rail study

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MANCHESTER, NH – On December 13 at 7 p.m. Executive Councilor Chris Pappas will hold a public hearing at City Hall about the proposed highway toll increase plan, and what it would buy for public safety and traffic flow. The tolls would allow an earlier start on the redesign and construction of Interstate 293, Exits 6 and 7. Representatives of the state Department of Transportation (DOT) have been invited.

The Executive Council has instructed the DOT to include $4 million in rail study funds in the 10 Year Plan.

The DOT is holding the money from a federal grant, part of a package of funds for intermodal projects in the Boston region. The study will include engineering, environmental, and financial planning.

Pappas expects a final vote by the Executive Council on December 20 regarding the toll increase plan and the release of rail study funds.

In a public letter to the Executive Councilors, Mayor-elect Joyce Craig wrote, “Bringing commuter rail to Manchester is an essential step in supporting and strengthening our community and I urge you to include this vital funding in the Ten Year Plan.”

The governor must submit the transportation plan to the legislature by January 15 so that the legislature can decide by June 30, the end of the fiscal year. Pappas said that Governor Sununu has agreed to go along with the Executive Council’s decision about the toll increase.