public works

Municipal Highways and Bridges: “How Bad Is It?”

In this second article in the transportation infrastructure series (see "Follow the Money, NH Transportation Infrastructure in Decline, Jan/Feb 2013 issue), we will move beyond a description of how transportation infrastructure is funded to try to identify for local officials where they might learn more about the condition of municipal highways and bridges in our state, and their role in operating and maintaining the system. I emphasize the word "try", because one of the current realities is that there is no single or convenient location where information about these issues is compiled.

Honoring Service and Sacrifice: New Memorial to Public Works Employees

"I can remember it like it was yesterday." It was May 25, 1959 and Jim Rivers was nine years old. "My mom got a call and they said my dad was injured on the job. I was waiting in the yard when Louis Colgan from the State Highway Department drove up and told my mother, 'I think we better go inside.'"

Town of Franconia Water System Improvements

By Lori Duff

The turning point, many residents believe, in the Town of Franconia's water system improvement project happened during the 2009 Town Meeting.

In its 247-year history, the town had never approved a bonded project, not even a couple hundred dollars for a fire truck, and now the water committee was asking for $3.85 million.

"This is the North Country," said Selectman Rich McLeod. "There is an innate resistance to debt or taxes or bonding. It takes a hard sell in order to have a project like this accepted by the community."

Concord Pilots Anti-Idling Equipment in City Vehicles

The City of Concord has focused on energy efficiency measures for several years in an effort to reduce energy consumption in the city's building and transportation sectors. Finance staff has been tracking energy use in both buildings and vehicles, which has led to implementation of numerous initiatives, including use of biodiesel in some fleet vehicles.

In late December 2010, Concord embarked on a new initiative with the installation of vehicle anti-idling equipment in eight fleet vehicles, including seven light duty trucks and one police sedan.

Winter Maintenance of Roads and Sidewalks

As winter approaches, it is time once again for towns and cities to review their policies regarding plowing, salting and sanding of municipal roads and sidewalks. While every town and city has a good deal of experience with these duties, the specific responsibilities and limitations placed on New Hampshire municipalities by state and federal law continue to evolve. In this column, we look at some of the frequently-asked questions regarding winter maintenance and explain the current status of the law.

It’s Mud Season: Weight Restrictions on Local Roads

Q. Do local officials have the authority to keep certain vehicles off of local roads?

Public Safety on the Roadways: Duties and Protections Under the Law

It is easy to take public facilities for granted. Keeping those facilities maintained and in repair is not an easy task, and use of facilities such as highways or the town hall often cannot stop while municipal staff or contractors perform the work. In the recent New Hampshire Supreme Court case of Appeal of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, decided October 28, 2005, the court was faced with the claim of a motorist whose vehicle was damaged by a state snowplow.

Regulating Drilling and Blasting Activities: Municipal Issues

According to the United States Geological Survey, a significant portion of the commercial explosives produced annually is used in the construction trades or to mine rock as a valuable product. In New Hampshire, this amounted to over 11,500 tons of explosive detonated in 2003. Many examples of these events are evident in New Hampshire's granite quarries and gravel pits, but increasingly explosives are used to remove rock during the construction of water and sewer lines, widening of highways and installation of new subdivision roads.

Class VI Roads and Maintenance Issues

Highway repair and maintenance projects are usually well underway at this time of year, prompting questions about maintenance of Class VI roads. There are lots of misconceptions about Class VI roads, so here are some reminders.

Trees in the Right of Way: Ice Storm Highlights Uncertainty

As this article is written, the lights have only recently come back on following the most devastating ice storm event in New Hampshire history. Starting on December 11, 2008, two inches of precipitation fell as freezing rain over a large portion of the state. Nearly everything was coated with ice, sometimes as much as an inch thick. The effect on the electric and telephone utilities was immediate and catastrophic. As noted by Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH):