Webster NH has a 63 year old bridge called the Clothespin Bridge and it is one of 324 red-listed bridges in NH. Per the NH DOT " State owned bridges requiring interim inspections due to known deficiencies, poor conditions, weight restrictions, or type of construction. These structures are inspected twice yearly."
NH DOT has $6.8 million funding program and a few million more in federal funds for a cost sharing program with municipalities ( 80% paid for by the state) to repair/replace these red-listed bridges.
It is not nearly enough to even keep up, as year after year as bridges are removed from the list, new ones are added on. The funds are made available on a first come, first served basis. The backlog is about 10 years long.
Webster's bridge is in danger of needing to be closed, so in the absence of state aid in a reasonable period of time, Webster may spend upwards of half a million dollars to replace the bridge.
Everyone recognizes that NH has a limited pot of money to go around. There are many competing interests looking for a piece of that pie and unfortunately , infrastructure keeps drawing the short straw.
Taxpayers will be forced to pay for 100% of these project costs, because the NH DOT does not have the resources to provide aid. Many towns and cities are already drowning with high property taxes and for certain will not be willing, or able, to afford what Webster is proposing to do. The alternative is to wait to get on the funding wait list and hope the bridges will not need to be closed or suffer a catastrophic failure.
“The overall condition of our infrastructure is such that we are going to continually fall behind unless we see some additional significant investment,” said Transportation Commissioner Victoria Sheehan at a summit on infrastructure and economic development last November in Bedford.
Governor Sununu prepares to present his budget later this week with a solid $160 million surplus from 2016. Spending some of that surplus on crumbling infrastructure will bring revenue to our local economy, add jobs and keep NH roads and bridges safe.