HAMPTON, N.H. (AP) – As the state tentatively plans to resume one-way tolls on Interstate 95, planners in neighboring communities want to know more about how much traffic left the highway and headed to local roads instead.

Last year, the state doubled the northbound toll to $2 at the Hampton tolls and eliminated southbound tolls. The state said the experiment eased traffic tie-ups on the highway, but increased traffic on local roads, partly because drivers tried to avoid the double, northbound toll.

It said traffic increased by as much as 10 percent on Route 1.

The Technical Advisory Committee of the Seacoast Metropolitan Planning Organization asked Department of Transportation officials on Friday about where and what types of vehicles used to avoid the tolls.

Committee member Warren Bambury of Hampton, said a 10 percent increase in traffic was not acceptable to him.

“Hampton has been looking for a decrease in that traffic,” he told Foster’s Daily Democrat.

Before the test, the average weekday traffic distribution on Route 1 in North Hampton was 60 percent northbound and 40 percent southbound. The percentages shifted to 71 percent northbound and 29 percent southbound during the test.

Mike OMalley, project designer for New Hampshire’s Bureau of Turnpikes, said some drivers always will try to avoid tolls.

However, he said the diversion to local roads declined during last summer’s experiment, and he believes there would be less diversion if the experiment were conducted over 12 months.

Jim Jalbert, president of C&J Trailways, said although some may not have liked the way the one-way tolling was quickly implemented last year, he believes it was a tremendous boon to the state.

“It was the first time our bus line ran on time on Fridays and Sundays,” he said.

Gov. Craig Benson pushed the one-way tolls after getting caught in a big traffic jam last summer.

AP-ES-03-20-04 1128EST



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