Merrimack hires attorney to look into suing over tollbooths

The Merrimack Town Council has stepped up its long debate with New Hampshire over tollbooths on the F.E. Everett Turnpike, voting 5-1-1 to invest up to $5,000 for a lawyer to look into the issue.

A lawsuit isn’t inevitable, but the vote is a new step in the
decades-long debate between Merrimack and the state over the tollbooths on all turnpike ramps in town.

The proposal was put forward by Town Councilor Daniel Dwyer, who called a recent 15-0 vote by the House Public Works and Highways Committee, killing a proposal to end the tolls on Exit 12, as “the proverbial straw” that broke the camel’s back.

“Fifteen to zip,” he said. “I think that number was what irked the board. Maybe if it had been 8-7, we would have been more accepting.”

Merrimack state representatives have been pushing for more than 15 years to remove at least some of the tolls on exits 10, 11 and 12.

Last summer, the full Senate supported a bill to remove the toll on Exit 12, but it was stalled by the House Transportation Committee vote.

The vote by the council on Thursday, Nov. 7, instructs an attorney to look into the issue and return with a recommendation about whether it’s viable to pursue it in court.

Councilor Tom Koenig abstained from the vote. The only opposition came from Councilor Tom Mahon.

“I don’t think it’s a wise decision – it’s a waste of time,” he said Friday. “They’re whistling in the wind.”

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@ Also, follow Brooks on Twitter