ROCKINGHAM (AP) -- Some New Hampshire lawmakers have met with Vermont officials in Rockingham to voice their support for sharing repair costs for a deteriorating 635-foot-long bridge connecting the two states.
The Eagle Times reports New Hampshire Rep. John Cloutier, D-Claremont, is drafting a legislative service request that would offer an even financial split between the states to renovate the Vilas Bridge, which was closed in 2009.
"I would like to see the bridge open. I’ve used the Vilas Bridge, it’s a great bridge and I would like to (open it) for the sake of your businesses and the sake of your public safety and frankly, (to) put people back to work," said Cloutier.
The New Hampshire Department of Transportation closed the bridge to vehicle and pedestrian traffic after it was deemed unsafe. New Hampshire owns 93 percent and is responsible for that percentage of maintenance, but in the Granite State the bridge is not considered a high priority for spending.
Many Bellows Falls business leaders say they have lost as much as 30 percent of their business since the bridge closed.
Cloutier encouraged the Rockingham Select Board and Bellows Falls Village trustees to look for possible funding sources if his measure gains traction.
He said New Hampshire’s situation with its highway fund is very dire right now. He noted the highway and turnpike funds could face up to a $1 billion deficit.