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May 11, 2015 4:35 PM

Landrigan: Shaheen: Federal inaction causing delays to replace Concord's Sewalls Falls Bridge


CONCORD - Nearly six months after it’s closed, there’s no starting date in sight to replace the Sewalls Falls Bridge over the Merrimack River in Concord. Senator Jeanne Shaheen visits the site to lobby Congress to get moving on a long-term highway bill needed to replace it.

"I thought we would have been further along at this point,’’ Shaheen said.

Here’s why they closed this bridge, wooden shims used to shore up the rusted-out steel trusses.

Here’s where the logjam resides as Congress stumbles along without acting on a permanent transportation money bill.

"In the last six years, we have had 32 short-term funding extensions to the highway trust fund,’’ Shaheen continued.

Two years ago, Senator Jeanne Shaheen secured permits to replace this red-listed bridge. Now they wait for an $8 million grant needed to do the job.

"So we are very close to replacing this bridge and it is all because of the work you have done but we still have that much more to go,’’ said Concord Mayor Jim Bouley.

Shaheen says the Capitol Hill stalemate is finding more revenue for projects since higher gas mileage is delivering less in federal gas taxes.

"The problem is getting the agreement on the funding but we have a dire situation now," Shaheen said.

Meanwhile back in Concord, the city’s mayor says the deal puts neighborhoods at risk in an emergency.

"If you live in east concord, this area over here, if one of the fire departments responds from Manor Station, they actually have to go through two other towns to respond,’’ Bouley added.


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