SHAHEEN: UNCERTAINTY OVER FEDERAL HIGHWAY PROGRAM JEOPARDIZING I-93 PROJECT, NEW HAMPSHIRE ECONOMY

November 04, 2011

(Londonderry, N.H.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today called on Congress to sufficiently fund and renew the federal highway program, so that the vital project to improve Interstate 93 in Southern New Hampshire isn’t imperiled.  Speaking at the North Londonderry Transportation Center along the interstate, Shaheen explained that work to reduce traffic congestion along the I-93 corridor is not only critical to regional business growth, but has also created hundreds of construction jobs.  Due to disagreement in Congress over the future of the highway program, however, such projects are now at risk around the country.

“Congress has a clear choice on the highway bill,” Shaheen said.  “It can reauthorize the highway program with sufficient funds and support job-creating construction around the country that improves our regional commerce and our nation’s infrastructure.  Or it can eliminate such construction jobs and allow local economies to sag under the weight of deteriorating roads and bridges.”

The highway bill, which provides funding for surface transportation infrastructure across the nation, has been operating under short-term extensions since 2009.  Such extensions have caused uncertainty for states who rely on the funding, making it difficult for them to move forward on critical infrastructure projects.  At the same time, the budget approved earlier this year by the Republican House would slash funding for the program by 35 percent.

In Southern New Hampshire, growing traffic congestion along I-93 has become a barrier to local business growth and a danger to public safety.  The work to alleviate this congestion has meant hundreds of jobs for construction workers, who were among the worst hit by the recession.  Yet the lack of a highway bill that is both sufficiently funded and reauthorized for the long-term has thrown this crucial project into jeopardy.

Shaheen has been a strong advocate of improving our nation’s infrastructure and this week spoke on the Senate floor in support of an infrastructure bill that would have helped create jobs and maintain America’s competitiveness in the global economy, but it was rejected by Republicans.

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