Two Year Federal Transportation Bill Passes; I-93 Expansion Partially Funded
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Last week, one day before the current authorization would have expired, the House and Senate passed the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act”, a long term Highway Bill.
New Hampshire stands to receive roughly $160 million in Federal funds over the next year to pay for highway projects. With the bump in funding over the immediate past fiscal year, the state’s recently passed Ten Year Highway Plan is now fully funded, including the I-93 expansion through Exit 3 in Windham.
The remainder of the I-93 project, from Exit 3 north to the I-293 split in Manchester, with the exception of the interchange at Exit 5, remains unfunded at this time.
The previous Highway Bill had been subject to several 11th hour short term extensions while negotiations between the two bodies were carried out. While the extensions, usually for 3 month terms, ensured the collection of gas taxes and the flow of money back to the states, it made long term planning impossible.
While the short term measures and the uncertainty leading up to the final passage of a long term bill threatened to scupper this construction season, the State of New Hampshire stepped in by issuing GARVEE Bonds. GARVEE Bonds are bonds issued by the state that are backed by anticipated Federal Highway revenues. With this money upfront, the state was able to begin work on projects before the Highway Bill was passed, ensuring that the entire summer construction season was not lost, which would have delayed completion of all the projects involved.
While there was some risk that the state would be left on the hook should the federal funds not come in at the anticipated levels, the bonds in question were issued at a mere 1.27%.
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