Looking back at the week in news
Sinkholes and potholes
and frost heaves, oh my!
New Hampshire has more than 17,029 miles of roads maintained by the state Department of Transportation.
Perhaps you’ve driven on one.
Maybe you’ve complained about springtime frost heaves, potholes or grumbled about being stuck behind a plow trying to clear a path after a snowstorm.
Everybody loves to complain about roads. All we expect, after all, is a flawlessly paved surface and smooth-flowing traffic.
Those are a few of the factors that make Victoria Sheehan’s new job among the most thankless in state government.
The Nashua resident was nominated this week to be New Hampshire’s new transportation commissioner, the state’s third in less than 10 years.
If confirmed by the New Hampshire Executive Council, she’ll inherit a host of challenges. Anyone looking for a visual reminder of that got one when – on the very same day Gov. Maggie Hassan announced the nomination – a giant sinkhole opened up on I-93 in Concord.
That was probably a coincidence, but Sheehan undoubtedly knows the bumps in the road ahead, having served in several high-level positions in the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
We hope the job comes with a seat belt.
Long overdue changes to Northern Pass proposal
Eversource claimed for months that it couldn’t possibly afford to bury the proposed Northern Pass power line that would carry hydroelectric power from Canada to southern New England.
The cost of burying the 192-mile line would make the project too expensive, officials of the utility insisted. Overhead lines were the only viable option.
That didn’t sit well with those who care about New Hampshire’s North Country, who were equally adamant that scenic views, tourism, property values and the environment would be harmed by the transmission lines.
Eversource this week announced that it would bury 60 miles of the line, including 52 miles through the White Mountains.
The new project answers some of the objections and is a recognition of the political realities surrounding the project.
Another criticism was that the Northern Pass was principally designed to serve southern New England. Some likened it to running an extension cord through New Hampshire’s living room and argued that the Granite State ought to at least be allowed to avail itself of a little juice.
Eversource officials announced a new 20-year power purchase agreement with HydroQuebec that will carve out 100 megawatts of electricity specifically for New Hampshire consumers, who pay some of the highest energy costs in the nation.
"It’s not to say this plan is perfect," said Eversource CEO Bill Quinlan said. "There may be changes that need to be made as we go through siting."
It is, however, a step in the right direction.
Result of State Police pilot program was disappointing
New Hampshire State Police like to think of themselves as the elite of the state’s law enforcement community, capable of taking on any challenge.
Apparently they have met their match.
State Police Executive Major David Parenteau told the Concord Monitor that State Police didn’t have the personnel to get a pilot program off the ground that would have field-tested a few body-cameras. There were also questions about how body cameras would square with state privacy laws, the Monitor reported.
Some municipal departments already use body cameras, but state safety officials argued against their use in testimony before the Legislature last year.
Where there’s no will, there’s no way, we suppose.