Town administrator: Gas tax hike would help Milford roads

MILFORD – The town is facing a critical situation regarding its roads and bridges, Milford Town Administrator Guy Scaife told Selectmen this month, and officials should talk to state lawmakers about how they propose to solve the funding problem.

New Hampshire tries to pave 500 miles of roads a year, and they are now doing half that, Scaife said, according to minutes of the board’s Feb. 10 meeting, and the problem keeps getting worse.

Municipal road and bridge repair is partly funded by the state gasoline tax, and last year, a proposal to raise it from 18 to 30 cents a gallon over three years passed the House but died in the Republican-controlled Senate. This year, a plan from Republican Sen. James Rausch, of Derry, Senate Bill 367, would tie gas tax increases to the rate of inflation and raise it automatically every four years.

The tax is now 18 cents a gallon, and the last time it was raised was 1992, Scaife said.

At a Milford Board of Selectmen candidates’ forum Feb. 19, most of the seven candidates said deteriorating roads and bridges is the main infrastructure problem facing the town.

Several of Milford’s bridges are on the state’s red list, meaning that they are due for inspection every year, instead of every two years.

The Jennison Road Bridge was closed in 2011 and has a temporary fix, and state aid should be available in 2016 for a permanent fix.

On the town warrant for the March 11 election is Article 9, which would establish a capital reserve fund for bridge repair and replacement and would put $125,000 in the fund.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.