Gives the Legislature the power to change turnpike toll rates, instead of the governor and Executive Council.
There are three turnpikes in New Hampshire, where drivers may have to pay one or several tolls: the Blue Star Turnpike (more commonly known as Interstate 95), the Spaulding Turnpike (Route 16), and the F.E. Everett Turnpike (Route 3/Interstate 93). Toll rates for a standard two-axle vehicle — like a passenger car — range from $0.50 to $2.00, with discounts offered for New Hampshire residents with an E-ZPass transponder.
The $1.9 billion ten-year transportation plan for 2019-2028 does not include any proposed increases in those tolls, nor does it call for new tolls.
"Open road" tolling in NH
New Hampshire currently has "open road" or high-speed toll lanes at two toll plazas: Hampton and Hooksett. Drivers with an E-ZPass transponder can drive through those lanes and pay their toll electronically without slowing down. There are still manned toll booths at both of those plazas where vehicles without an E-ZPass transponder can pay the toll.
With all-electronic tolling, all toll lanes are converted to "open road" — no manned booths are present. Those passing through would either use E-ZPass transponders to pay or would be mailed a bill based on a scan of their license plates. In Massachusetts, where many toll plazas have been converted to all-electronic tolling, those using the pay-by-plate system are subject to a higher toll rate.
The latest New Hampshire transportation plan budgeted for all-electronic tolling to be implemented at the Dover and Rochester toll plazas. (The state is still considering whether to switch the Bedford toll plaza to all-electronic tolling, or open road tolling with some manned booths.)
Concerns over privacy raised by this change were addressed in the transportation plan with a requirement that the Department of Transportation give people the option of using an anonymous transponder — one they could fund and use without it being linked to any of their personal information.
Tolls at exit 10,11 and 12 of the Everett Turnpike were constructed in 1989 as part of a deal that brought the city of Merrimack nearly $50 million of road improvements related to industrial development. Long-term bonds still need to be paid off for the Merrimack upgrades, which is estimated to happen in 2022. Merrimack residents argue that the Everett Turnpike tolls are unfair since other communities have not paid for infrastructure improvements with tolls.
The latest state transportation plan called for the creation of a legislative committee to study removing the remaining two Merrimack tolls, at exits 10 and 11.
There are no new tolls currently included in the state's transportation plan.
Opponents of new tolls often argue that they would push drivers to divert from the highway, clogging local roads. Opponents have also argued that new tolls would discourage tourism to New Hampshire.
Supporters of new tolls, however, argue the money is crucial to fund bridge repairs, road maintenance and other needs.
Establishes a commission to evaluate whether the collection of tolls on the turnpike system is cost effective.
Authorizes the Department of Transportation and the Department of Safety to deny registration renewal for vehicles that owe tolls in another state. Right now New Hampshire only has reciprocal agreements with Maine and Massachusetts to deny registration based on tolls owed in other states.
Eliminates the tolls at Exit 11 on the Everett turnpike in Merrimack. The Senate amended the bill to clarify that the tolls could only be eliminated after paying for a proportionate share of improvements to the turnpike around Merrimack.
Permits the Department of Transportation to consider electronic tolling at the Dover and/or Rochester tolling facilities along the Spaulding Turnpike, and/or the Hooksett ramp tolling facility, and install electronic tolling with approval from the Governor and Legislature. The Senate amended the bill to also set up a system to use an electronic toll transponder anonymously.
Establishes prepaid road tolls for motor vehicles powered by alternative energy sources, such as batteries, solar cells, and natural gas. The House amended the bill to only create a prepaid road toll for electric vehicles.
Establishes a committee to study the feasibility of privatizing the New Hampshire toll system.
Provides that a person having the exclusive right to use a vehicle pursuant to a court order following a final hearing on the merits is the vehicle’s owner for purposes of electronic toll collection.
Establishes a commission to study revenue alternatives to the gas tax for the funding of the state’s highways and bridges.
Removes all tolls in Merrimack.
Increases the gas tax by four-cents per gallon and removes the toll at Exit 12 in Merrimack.
Removes the tolls at Exit 12 in Merrimack.
Should NH increase tolls and/or add new toll booths?
The Senate gave initial approval to a bill that would eliminate the Merrimack toll, with the Finance Committee amending the bill to call for the removal of the toll in 2024, once the bond for the Merrimack turnpike exchanges is fully paid off.
The state's ten-year transportation plan calls for a switch to all-electronic or "open road" tolling in Rochester and Dover, a change estimated to take place by 2021. The DOT is also looking at swapping the Bedford tolls to either all-electronic or a hybrid system with both cash and high-speed "open road" tolling lanes.
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