Report on Status of Repairs to Route 119
First, we wish to thank all of you who wrote letters to State Representatives and the Department of Trans-portation in the fall of 2014 and those who sent us†† †e-mails about the condition of Route 119. Your efforts got DOTís attention and were a good part of the reason Route 119 in Fitzwilliam is getting paved.
By the time you read this report Route 119 should have been repaved from Rindge to the Depot.† A similar repaving job is planned by the NH DOT for early next summer between the Depot and Richmond.
The repaving work that is being done is a ĺ inch coating which will produce a smooth surface which should keep the road in reasonable shape for 2 to 5 years. It wonít solve the frost heave problem in the winter or any long term problems with the base of the road.† Thus, without a solid base, heavy trucks will still depress the pavement causing cracks and breaks.
On September 18, Jim Talbert, Frank Bequaert and Suzanne Gray attended a public hearing of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Intermodal Transportation (GACIT) with the hope of getting the rebuilding of Route 119 put on the 10 year plan. There was one Commissioner present. Suzanne made a presentation of our case. Her presentation was cut short by the Commissioner once he understood the cost of such a proposal. We have copies of the proposal we made which includes all the comments sent to us from concerned citizens. Call Frank Bequaert at 585-3448 if you wish a copy.
Here is where we stand at present:
1. Rebuilding Route 119 in Fitzwilliam is a major project (1 million dollars a mile) that must be in the 10 Year Plan in order to be funded.
2. Route 119 in Fitzwilliam is classified as a Tier 3 Road which means it gets significantly less attention from the NH DOT in regards to repairs than do Tier 2 Roads such as Route 12.
3. There is a shortage of funding for road main-tenance in the state. While costs of materials have gone way up in the past 10 years, the revenue from the gasoline tax has gone down due to the more efficient cars now on the road. While a significant increase in the gas tax was recently proposed, the legislature cut it back to 4.2 cents a gallon with all of this increase paying for improvements to I-93.
4. Most of the projects on the 10 year plan are vital road and bridge repair projects many with solid economic justification. For example, the Connecticut River Bridge at Brattleboro requires immediate replacement. Shutting down this bridge would probably shut down the Walmart and NH State Liquor Store in Hinsdale and add 20+ miles to the commute of Hinsdale residents who work in VT.
5. The process of getting a project on the current 10 year plan began with hearings last February for projects that wanted to be added to the plan. We did not make a presentation at those hearings. Our presentation on September 18th was at a public review hearing of the proposed plan. Most presentations were made by entities that had items already in the Plan. These presenters were trying to make sure that their projects did not get removed from or moved later in the Plan.
6. The next chance to put new items in the 10 Year Plan will be in February of 2017. The competition will be fierce.
While the reality of the road situation both here in Fitzwilliam and in the State as a whole is discouraging, we are continuing to look into possible ways of making permanent improvements to Route 119 as well as improvements to the intersection of Routes 12 and 119. However, note the following:
1. Achieving any permanent repairs to Route 119 will require a long term (many years) and concerted effort by Fitzwilliam. There must first be a concrete and detailed plan for the work which has the backing of both citizens and town officials. Someone, or some organization, must be committed to the project and be willing to accept defeats along the way.† Planning may require expenses to the Town such as the hiring of a professional highway engineer.
2. There are some improvements that can be made by the NH DOT to the intersection of Routes 12 and 119 with available funding. But again, there must be a concrete and detailed plan for this work which has the backing of both citizens and town officials
3. The major impediment to major road repairs both here in Fitzwilliam and throughout the State is lack of funding. The only reasonable source of additional funds would be an increase in the State Gas Tax. There is also the possibility that if the Legislature votes in such an increase, we may see little of the funds raised as road improvements in regions with more votes buy more political favor.
If you need more information about the Route 119 situation or have comments about the above, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Frank at 585-3448.
†††††††††††††† Frank Bequaert††††††††††††††† Jim Talbert