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This newsletter is a resource for organizations working to create a safe, well-maintained and integrated transportation system that gives people options for getting around.
 

Table of Contents

The NH Statewide Transportation Initiative

Monthly News and Call for Action

September 2014

When transportation is working well, it's almost invisible.  People go from home to work and back.  Goods get delivered.  People go to stores to buy things.  Doctors see patients.  People visit offices and get services.  Tourists enjoy our beautiful landscape and cultural heritage.  Businesses grow.  Skilled workers are attracted to jobs in our state.  Children walk and ride their bikes to school. 

When transportation is inadequate, it sticks out like a sore thumb.  Pot-holed roads cost hundreds in extra maintenance each year.  People have trouble getting to work.  Some lose their jobs.  High transportation costs make the price of goods go up.  People buy less.  Patients miss medical appointments.  More people rely on emergency rooms.  Businesses move away.  Skilled workers move to places with transportation options.  Children get less exercise.

We have been taking our invisible transportation system for granted, and it is no longer doing the job we need it to do.  As Congressman Earl Blumenauer said in a speech about transportation, "America is falling apart, and is falling behind."  New Hampshire is no exception.  Our infrastructure is crumbling, and we don't have the sort of transportation options that attract businesses and workers, and that help create healthy, thriving communities.

What can we do about it?  We can work together to broaden the conversation about transportation to include all modes, then build the public support our representatives need to invest in transportation options by demonstrating the return on this investment.  Keep reading to see how you can help.

Our thanks go to the Endowment for Health and a donor-advised fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation for believing in this process and funding our work.

 

Things to celebrate!

Portsmouth holds first Open Streets event

A portion of the City of Portsmouth was closed to vehicle traffic on Sunday, September 14th, in the first ever Portsmouth Open Streets event.  The event was covered here and you can find a photo gallery here.

Open Streets projects temporarily transform public streets into a public park. By diverting motor vehicle traffic, a space is created in which people of all ages and abilities can walk, ride, socialize and play.

Open Streets Portsmouth is a division of SABR: Seacoast Area Bicycle Routes.

Northern Rail Trail through Merrimack County is completed

On August 8, 2014, the Friends of the Northern Rail Trail in Merrimack County finished building 2 miles of new trail in Boscawen, from Depot Street to just north of the Hannah Dustin Park & Ride near the Concord city line. The construction of this new section of Rail Trail was funded by a $30,000 federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant, supplemented by a contribution of equipment from Durgin & Crowell of New London.

This new 2 mile rail trail in Boscawen winds along a scenic and secluded section of the Merrimack River and goes alongside the bottom land cornfields of the Crete Farm. Regular trail users have all commented on the natural beauty and peacefulness of this trail segment.  A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned on October 4th from 10:00 to 12:00.  Read more.

$1.4M TIGER grant for Northcoast Railroad

On August 14th, Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement regarding the $1.4 million Transportation Investment Generating Economy Recovery (TIGER) 2013 grant to the New Hampshire Northcoast Railroad's main-line rail between Rochester and Ossipee:

"Northcoast Railroad is an important economic link for southeastern and central New Hampshire, connecting the region to the national freight rail network with a connection to Boston at its southern portion. Industrial sector companies depend on this railroad, and the repairs and upgrades made possible by this TIGER grant will directly impact existing customers and greatly assist our efforts to bring new industry to the region. Strengthening our transportation infrastructure is critical to our long-term economic growth, and I thank the New Hampshire Congressional delegation for their advocacy, as well as the U.S. Department of Transportation for this critical investment that will help keep our economy moving in the right direction."  

Read more here, here, and here.

NVTC Releases New Program Review Tool


The National Volunteer Transportation Center has released a tool for volunteer driver programs.  It will enable program managers and staff to review the operations and management of their volunteer driver program in providing and supporting the delivery of transportation services.

You can download the tool here.

Somersworth examines passenger rail feasibility


The City of Somersworth NH is hiring a consultant for a three-stage transportation analysis. According to the request for proposals, "The purpose is to prepare a study of the Northcoast Railway line in a manner consistent with rail service and business development criteria, and report on the potential for revitalization of this privately-owned rail line. It shall include an analysis and feasibility study for passenger and commuter rail service along the railway linking Somersworth and other NH municipalities on the corridor. The major goal of this project is to prepare a report that can be used by the City of Somersworth and other public and private stakeholders to determine the basis for future investment in the revitalization of the railway north from Rollinsford."  Read more here.

Governor Hassan signs Claremont bus bill


Governor Maggie Hassan was at River Valley Community College on August 27th to ceremonially sign a bill advancing Claremont-Lebanon bus service.  For more information on HB 650, contact Community Alliance.
 

SVR celebrates 15,000 rides


On July 18th, Souhegan Valley Rides (SVR), more commonly known as “The Blue Bus”, provided its 15,000th ride. To commemorate this milestone, Milford resident Mike Ploss was honored as the 15,000th passenger. Ploss, a regular rider on “The Blue Bus”, has needed to use paratransit services for over eleven years. In talking about the need for everyone to be able to get around, he noted that “Milford is a great town. I’m able to live here because of the bus service.”  Read more here.
 

Rail group plans to run passenger and freight trains from Portland to Montreal

Golden Eagle Railway Corporation is working on running trains from Portland through the Mount Washington Valley and on to Montreal, said Golden Eagle’s president David Schwanke, of Norridgewock, Maine.

Read more on the front page of the August 23rd and September 26th editions of the Conway Daily Sun or the August 8th edition of the Bangor Daily News.

MTA and CART System Connection Study 


Earlier this year, work was completed on the MTA/CART System Connection Study. This study produced a conceptual service linking the MTA and CART systems through implementation of an express bus linking the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester and The Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem. This service, which addresses specifically identified demand while not competing with existing services, would connect to the MTA system via three separate fixed routes at the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester. The link to the CART system would be provided via a stop on the Salem Shuttle currently being operated by MTA for CART. For more information on the MTA/CART System Connection Study, contact Tim White at twhite@snhpc.org.

Transport Central gets new office


Congratulations on new office space for Transport Central, whose volunteer drivers deliver transportation services for residents of a 19 town region of Central NH, centered around Plymouth.
 
New Location:
Whole Village Family Resource Center
258 Highland Street
Plymouth, NH 03264

For more information, contact Teirrah Hussey by mail at Transport Central, PO Box 855, Plymouth, NH 03264, by telephone at 855-654-3200, or by email: teirrahhussey@gmail.com.

Nashua Transit gets resilience funding


U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced on September 22nd that 40 projects have been competitively selected to receive a share of $3.59 billion in federal disaster relief funds to help public transportation systems in the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy to become more resilient, in order to withstand the impact of future natural disasters. Approximately 90 percent of the funds will be invested in resilience projects primarily in New York and New Jersey, where transit systems sustained the worst of the storm damage, with the remainder going towards projects in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. A list of all funded resilience projects is available here.
 
The City of Nashua received $25,781 for a Nashua Transit facility back-up power supply interface that will allow Nashua's existing backup mobile power source to be used at a central maintenance and dispatch facility in case of a loss of power due to a hurricane or other disaster.

Strategic Transit Assessment Study


The NH Department of Transportation will conduct the first ever statewide strategic transit assessment study, to provide a snapshot of the current system, a needs assessment, and a vision for the future.  An outside consultant will conduct the study, aided by an advisory committee with intimate knowledge of our current system.  Here is the timeline for the study:
 
November 2014 – Consultant Review Process
December 2014 – Vote on Consultants
April 2015 – Governor & Council Approval
Early 2017 – Final Report

Littleton gets $250,000 for Main Street revitalization project

 The town of Littleton will receive $250,000 to support a Main Street revitalization project. Littleton will construct a multi-use bridge over the Ammonoosuc River, which will connect pedestrians, bicycles and off-road vehicles with downtown and the riverfront. Two businesses have said they plan to expand once the project is completed.  Read more here.

Community Bike Clinic held in Manchester

NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire, in partnership with Bike Manchester and the City of Manchester Office of Youth Services, hosted a free community bike clinic on Saturday, Sept. 13th.  Turnout was excellent.  Participants completed 52 surveys, repaired 32 bikes, and registered 35 bikes.  Future bike clinics are scheduled for October 11th and November 8th.  Find out more here.

Pease B2B Commuter Challenge

The Pease B2B Commute Challenge, October 6-17, is all about getting more people logging more miles using sustainable transportation like biking, riding the bus, carpooling,  or telecommuting. There are a number of prizes and EVERYONE WINS by saving money, lowering stress and doing something good for the environment. The teamwork feels great, too!

All employers located at the Pease Tradeport are eligible to enter. There is no fee, just a participant agreement and contest rules to read, sign and return. The two week Challenge kicks off October 6th and ends on October 17th.

More information here, or you can call Anne Rugg, manager of commuteSMARTseacoast and Smart Commute head coach, at 603-743-5777 x 109.

Got news?  Send it to Rebecca Harris at Transport NH for next month.

 

Window of Opportunity

Talk to the candidates about
transportation options
Find a forum near you!

Use the background information below to prepare your questions for legislative candidates who are making the rounds in your area.  Check this page frequently for the latest list of candidate forums.  Watch your local paper for other venues where you can meet the candidates and find out their views on transportation.

Ask the candidates if they are aware of the facts below, then ask them what changes in transportation policy they think New Hampshire needs to stay economically competitive and to provide for the basic needs of its citizens who can't drive.

Here is that background information:


Member Profile

Healthy Eating Active Living

Established in 2008, HEAL is a network of state and community partners dedicated to advancing population-based approaches to reduce the prevalence of obesity and chronic disease in New Hampshire. HEAL aims to improve access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity, prioritizing its work in communities and populations with the greatest health disparities.

HEAL fosters policy, systems and environmental change strategies to achieve the following long-term goals:

  • New Hampshire residents will have equitable access to options for getting around, and safe places to play and be active.
  • New Hampshire residents will have equitable access to healthy food.

Because New Hampshire’s public health challenges cut across sectors and policy areas, HEAL has brought together network partners representing health, land use, transportation, education, food systems, economic development, housing, environment, policy makers, business, and industry professional groups to achieve long-term sustained change.  Read more here, and see the events section below for details on the HEAL Conference happening on October 16th.


Upcoming events

Northern Rail Trail ribbon cutting ceremony

Saturday, October 4th


Official opening of the Northern Rail Trail and ribbon cutting ceremony will take place on Saturday, October 4 from 10 a.m. to noon (Rain Date: Sunday, Oct. 5) at Jamie Welch Park on Depot Street in Boscawen, N.H. There will be music by the newly formed N. H. Rail Trail Band (made up of the Kearsarge and Upper Valley Community Bands and the Hopkinton Town Band), keynote remarks by Chris Gamache, head of the New Hampshire Bureau of Trails, a ribbon cutting ceremony officially opening the Northern Rail Trail, Rail Trail tours, and free refreshments. All are invited to attend and to wear walking shoes and bring their bicycles.  Read more.

Manchester Bike Tour

Sunday, October 12th

To raise money for environmental projects and land conservation across the city, the Manchester Conservation Commission will host the Manchester Bike Tour, a 30-mile family friendly ride around the city on Sunday, Oct. 12.

The tour begins at PSNH Energy Park and loops around the city. Sights along the route include Rock Rimmon, the Piscataquog Rail Trail, Nutts Pond Recreation Trail, Aviation Museum at the Airport, Lake Massabesic and the Historic Weston Observatory.

A $25 registration fee will sign riders up to ride the tour. Children 6-13 years of age are $10. Children under 6 years old are free. The tour offers T-shirts, rest stops, bike support, and a lunch at the end of the ride. The registration fee will go directly into the Manchester Conservation Fund. This event is endorsed by the Mayor’s office and the Board of Aldermen.

In addition to riders, the event needs volunteers are sought to assist with the event: two from 6:30 to 8:30am to assist with registration and general setup; two from 11am to 1pm to help with clean up; and eight from 7:30 to 11am to staff the four rest stops.

If interested in volunteering, contact Jeff Belanger at jbelanger@manchesternh.gov.

Healthy Eating Active Living Conference

Thursday, October 16th

HEAL NH is hosting a conference in October.  Agenda items include:
  • Celebrate the accomplishments of four active HEAL coalitions creating transformative change in rural communities and urban neighborhoods
  • Brief look back at the HEAL journey to where we are today
  • Official launch of the HPHP initiative and network
  • Learn about the four broad work areas and comprise the HPHP Plan and how individuals, organizations and others can participate, contribute and support the plan through their own interests and work 
Read more.

Upper Valley Candidates' Forum

Wednesday, October 22nd

Vital Communities and Smart Commute Upper Valley are hosting a candidates forum on transportation Wednesday, October 22nd at the Kilton Library in West Lebanon, with questions by a moderator followed by questions from the audience.  For more information, see the October 22nd entry in the calendar here or contact

Aaron Brown
Transportation Program Manager
Vital Communities
195 North Main Street
White River Junction, Vermont 05001
Telephone: 802.291.9100 ext. 111
Fax: 802.291.9107
Web: http://www.vitalcommunities.org

Bike Manchester Meeting

Thursday, October 23rd

The next Bike Manchester meeting will be on Thursday, October 23rd at 6:00 pm.  Location to be announced here.  Updates can be found here.


Member exchange

This is where network members can:
  • exchange information
  • ask for help
  • get advice
  • help each other out with specific actions
What constitutes a network member?  If you are doing things which contribute to the goal of a safe, well-maintained and integrated transportation system that gives people options for getting around, you're a member of the network.

What is Transport NH?  We are the backbone organization that supports the network and helps align activities toward the common goal.  We also advocate independently for policies that advance this goal.

Send queries, answers, requests for and offers of help to Rebecca Harris, Director of Transport NH.

Need your help: Collecting opportunities to broaden the conversation


Do you know of an event where transportation might come up?  It could be a meeting about seniors, or public health, or the environment, or the economy, not just transportation-specific meetings.  Meet the candidate events are great opportunities for broadening the conversation on transportation.

If you know of any such events, contact Transport NH.  We will get someone to attend if possible and help widen the definition of transportation to include all modes. Send leads to Rebecca Harris, Director of Transport NH.


Policy updates

Process for setting investment priorities begins now


In New Hampshire, we prioritize transportation spending through the Ten Year Transportation Improvement Plan.  Our Department of Transportation (NHDOT) helpfully provides a brochure to explain this two year process.  You will see that the first step on this flow chart is for the regional planning commissions (RPCs) to assess local and regional transportation needs in the fall of even years (such as 2014), solicit new projects from communities, then evaluate them, rank them, and pass on their recommendations to NHDOT by May 1st the following spring.  NHDOT then prepares a draft Ten Year Plan based on these recommendations and submits it to the Governor's Advisory Commission on Intermodal Transportation (GACIT).  GACIT sends it to the Governor, who then sends it to the Legislature.  The 2015-2024 plan was signed into Law by Governor Hassan August 1, 2014.  The process then starts all over again.

The GACIT is comprised of the five Executive Councilors, plus the Commissioner of NHDOT in a non-voting role, as defined by RSA 228:100.  They hold public meetings around the state on the Ten Year Plan in the fall of the odd years (such as 2015).  You can find a summary of the 2013 hearings, plus a copy of the transmittal letter from GACIT to the Governor, on this webpage.

The question is, how do projects get into this process in the first place?  The answer is that the RPCs solicit projects from the municipalities and other institutions (universities, transit agencies) in their regions, usually through the local planning boards.  The RPCs start this as early as October. Projects originate here as well as through regional corridor studies guided by steering committees of local representatives, or statewide needs identified by NHDOT. Some specific federal funding programs targeting bicycle and pedestrian projects, such as Transportation Alternatives or Recreational Trails, have separate  application windows that run on different cycles, but bicycle and pedestrian projects are also eligible for the general Ten Year Plan solicitation process.

If your community would benefit from having a project included in the Ten Year Transportation Improvement Plan, start now by talking to your planning board and reaching out to your regional planning commission.  Ask your planning board how they decide which projects to submit to the RPC.  It all starts locally.

Why ridership matters


This is from POLITICO's Morning TransportationAPTA President Michael Melaniphy "said strong ridership helps illustrate the value of transit (and the importance of federal funding) as lawmakers continue to mull a long-term transportation bill. Last year, people took more than 10.7 billion trips on public transportation in the U.S., the highest annual ridership in 57 years. Having strong ridership numbers helps boost the argument about the value of public transportation as advocates try to ensure they won’t see a repeat of 2012, when the House transportation bill proposed eliminating dedicated federal funding for transit by moving the program out of the Highway Trust Fund."  APTA Quarterly Ridership report here.

USDOT Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation

"The establishment of well-connected walking and bicycling networks is an important component for livable communities, and their design should be a part of Federal-aid project developments… Walking and bicycling provide low-cost mobility options that place fewer demands on local roads and highways.

"The DOT encourages States, local governments, professional associations, community organizations, public transportation agencies, and other government agencies, to adopt similar policy statements on bicycle and pedestrian accommodation as an indication of their commitment to accommodating bicyclists and pedestrians as an integral element of the transportation system."  Read more here.


 


Connecting
the Dots

Lack of long-term transportation funding bad for the economy


An article in The Motley Fool states:  "One of the more pressing issues currently facing Congress is what to do about the Highway Trust Fund. The Fund, which generates revenue from federal gasoline and diesel taxes, is responsible for providing money to assist in constructing and maintaining bridges, roads, mass-transit systems, and select aspects of America's energy infrastructure. According to The Wall Street Journal, roughly $216 billion is spent annually on highway and mass-transit construction and improvements, with the Highway Trust Fund kicking in about one-quarter of that total.

The problem is that the Highway Trust Fund is heading toward insolvency. Had Congress not voted to extend funding through May 2015 (kicking the can down the road once again), the Fund would have been running a negative cash balance by September 2014.  

The bigger problem is that infrastructure jobs comprise about 14.2 million jobs in this country -- 10% of our workforce -- according to a study from Brookings. In other words, if funding begins to get cut to individual states, the trickle-down effect from contractors to individual workers could result in substantial layoffs. A failure of both political parties to work together on this issue could be devastating to select states that have a higher concentration of infrastructure jobs, as well as the U.S. economy as a whole."

 



Call for action

Ask candidates where they stand on transit funding


Ask state candidates if they are aware that the public wants more investment in transportation for seniors and people with disabilities.  Use this infographic that shows what NH residents think about transportation.  Forums can be found here.

Counter false framing on gas tax increase


The NH gas tax was last increased in 1991.  Since then, the price of asphalt has increased almost 500%. The modest four cent increase that took effect July 1st only gets us part way to fixing our state's crumbling infrastructure.  NH DOT has a webpage showing exactly where this new funding is being utilized, including the additional $70 million going to our towns as Municipal Block Grant funding.

Gas prices on the day the tax went into effect averaged $3.65 statewide, and have fallen steadily since then to around $3.37 at the end of September.  (See Gas Buddy chart here.)  Don't let others frame this as a 23% tax increase that is hurting people.  No one felt the increase as gas prices steadily fell.  In fact, prices are predicted to fall below $3.00 by the end of the year.

Ask candidates about our decaying infrastructure


Ask state and federal candidates if they are willing to find the revenue needed to shore up our crumbling transportation infrastructure, of if they will allow it to degrade to the conditions found in developing countries, or worse.

Ask them what their solutions would be if they are elected.  Forums can be found here.

Help with the Transportation Action Plan


These are the four items that are currently in the action plan:
  • Initiate a statewide transit study to get a clear picture of where we are now. 
    Status:  Under way.  See news section for details.
  • Develop metrics for bicycle, pedestrian and transit modes that can be used in the NH DOT
    Balanced Score Card. 
    Status:  working with bike, ped, transit groups on metrics to recommend to DOT.
  • Build public and political support for restoration of state match for federal transit operating funds.
    Status:  developing fact sheet to help the network communicate with elected officials
  • Hold an information session for legislators in January 2015 on the topic of safe travel in all modes.
    Status:  retained consultant to guide logistics, extending invitations to organizations to participate
There are action teams for each of these, and we welcome you to join one or more.  Contact Rebecca Harris to offer your assistance.
Intrigued?  Check out The Pew Charitable Trusts report, Intergovernmental Challenges in Surface Transportation Funding.
Comments?  Questions?  Send us an email.
Copyright © 2014 Transport NH, All rights reserved.


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