By APRIL GUILMET
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- With the governor’s recent endorsement of a new state infrastructure bank, supporters of the long-awaited Pettengill Road project are crossing their fingers that the new funding option could finally pave the way for the region’s future.
On Jan. 6, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch endorsed the creation of a new state infrastructure bank, which would provide a revolving loan fund that communities could borrow from to finance road and bridge projects. Under the new legislation, which is still in conceptual stages, communities could pay back such loans over time, using funds generated through tax revenues following economic growth.
Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, the bill’s prime sponsor, said the governor’s endorsement last week marked what she’s hoping will ultimately spell a fresh beginning for the long-awaited project.
“I was pleasantly surprised to learn the governor wants to work with us on this issue,” Carson said yesterday. “I’ve already been working with the town to elevate the importance of this project, not only for Londonderry but for the region as a whole. That’s what this is really about: creating local jobs and boosting our economy. ”
In 1999, the town of Londonderry began working with state and Manchester-Boston Regional Airport officials, as well as local land owners, to develop the design for the Pettengill Road project.
Based on a 2004 traffic study, it was found that there was a definite need for an intersection providing access to northern Londonderry and surrounding industrial land to coincide with construction of the new Airport Access Road, which is slated for completion in July 2012. Project officials hope the Pettengill Road development will be completed around the same time, however funding has proven an ongoing challenge. At the same time, project proponents expect it to be a driving economic engine for the region.
Carson said the pending legislation has been in the works for the past month or so.
“Over 30 other states already have state infrastructure banks in place to assist local commu-nities,” she noted. “Residents would still have to vote on whether or not the town would apply for funding through this program, so it’s really about maintaining local control.”
“We are very lucky to have a tremendous group of people here in Londonderry, who are working towards Pettengill Road’s funding. They’ve been working on it for years,” Carson added.
During Lynch’s inaugural speech last week, the recently re-elected governor noted that while state road projects are essential for economic growth, local road projects are equally vital.
“For example, in the town of Londonderry, the development of Pettengill Road would open up that area to millions of dollars in economic development and new jobs,” Lynch said. “That is why I support a new revolving loan fund — a state infrastructure bank — that would allow communities to pay back the cost of road projects over time through the tax revenues generate by economic growth.” Former Londonderry town councilor Kathy Wagner, a longtime supporter of the project, said one of her major goals while serving on the council was the appropriation of economic development in her town.
Wagner said the town began conceptualizing the Pettengill Road project soon after learning of the impending Airport Access Road.