TITLE XX
TRANSPORTATION

Chapter 234
BRIDGES AND BRIDGE AID

Duty to Construct and Maintain Bridges

Section 234:1

    234:1 Bridges. – All bridges constructed or reconstructed with bridge aid funds and which are located on class II highways shall be maintained by the state. All other bridges on class II highways shall be maintained by the city or town in which they are located, and may be constructed or reconstructed with the use of bridge aid funds.

Source. 1921, 155:7. PL 85:13. 1935, 26:5. 1937, 122:2. RL 101:13. 1945, 188:1, part 2:5. RSA 231:5. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 78:1, eff. July 9, 1985.

Section 234:2

    234:2 Bridge Defined. –
In this chapter, "bridge" means a structure, having a clear span of 10 feet or more measured along the center line of the roadway at the elevation of the bridge seats, spanning a watercourse or other opening or obstruction, on a public highway to carry the traffic across, including the substructure, superstructure and approaches to the bridge. For purposes of qualification of bridge aid under this subdivision, but not applicable to RSA 234:4 or RSA 234:13, the term bridge shall include a combination of culverts constructed to provide drainage for a public highway with:
I. An overall combined span of 10 feet or more; and
II. A distance between culverts of 1/2 the diameter or less of the smallest culvert.

Source. 1921, 155:1. PL 85:1. 1935, 26:2. RL 101:1. 1945, 188:1, part 14:1. RSA 242:1. 1981, 87:1. 2007, 12:1, eff. July 1, 2007.

Section 234:3

    234:3 Approaches, Limits of. – The commissioner of transportation shall determine the limits of the approaches to all bridges constructed with bridge aid funds.

Source. 1945, 188:1, part 14:2. 1950, 5:1, part 9:1, par. 2. RSA 242:2. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 78:3, eff. July 9, 1985; 402:6, I(b)(5).

Section 234:4

    234:4 Capacity of Bridge. – All bridges constructed with bridge aid funds shall have a carrying capacity of at least the legal load as stipulated in RSA 266. All bridges reconstructed with bridge aid funds shall have a carrying capacity of at least 15 tons.

Source. 1921, 155:12. PL 85:16. 1929, 131:2. RL 101:16. 1945, 188:1, part 14:3. RSA 242:3. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 78:3. 1994, 317:1, eff. Aug. 7, 1994.

Section 234:5

    234:5 Application; Compliance with Certain Standards. –
I. The selectmen of a town, the mayor of a city, or the county commissioners for an unincorporated place may annually apply to the commissioner of transportation in the manner prescribed by the commissioner for bridge aid on a class II, IV, or V highway or a county-owned road. The county commissioners may annually apply to the commissioner of transportation in the manner prescribed by the commissioner for bridge aid for a county-owned bridge.
II. The commissioner of transportation shall require that the highway design be in compliance with standards set forth in department of transportation manuals relating to bridge and highway construction and may adopt such manuals by reference.

Source. 1921, 155:10. PL 85:14. RL 101:14. 1945, 188:1, part 14:4. 1950, 5:1, part 9:1, par. 2. RSA 242:4. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 78:4; 402:6, I(b)(5). 1993, 284:2. 1995, 4:1. 2008, 380:1, eff. July 1, 2008; 380:3, eff. Aug. 5, 2008 at 12:01 a.m.

Section 234:5-a

    234:5-a Bridge Replacement or Rehabilitation and Bridge Aid Funds. –
In order to accommodate the early replacement or rehabilitation and lowest cost for municipal bridges that have been closed to vehicular traffic due to safety concerns, cities and towns may request the closed bridge be placed on the schedule for bridge aid funds from the state at the time of closure. If any municipal bridge is replaced or rehabilitated by the city or town at its cost prior to bridge aid funds being available, the state funding may come at a later date according to the bridge aid schedule provided that:
I. The bridge was closed in accordance with department of transportation recommendations;
II. The bridge is on the schedule for bridge aid funds;
III. The bridge design is approved by the department of transportation;
IV. Bridge aid funds are available in the year the bridge is scheduled to be replaced or rehabilitated; and
V. The city or town agrees it has no legal or financial claim against the state if funds are not available in the year of the schedule for the bridge aid.

Source. 2014, 37:1, eff. July 26, 2014.

Section 234:6

    234:6 Priority. – Applications shall be considered in the order received by the commissioner and shall be programmed for construction on the basis of projected funding availability, anticipated design schedule, and other such parameters as the commissioner may prescribe for scheduling bridge aid projects.

Source. 1945, 188:1, part 14:5. 1950, 5:1, part 9:1, par. 2. RSA 242:5. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 402:6, I(b)(5). 1994, 155:1, eff. July 22, 1994.

Section 234:7

    234:7 Repealed by 1995, 4:2, I, eff. Jan. 1, 1996. –

Section 234:8, 234:9

    234:8, 234:9 Repealed by 1981, 124:2, eff. July 10, 1981. –

Section 234:10

    234:10 Bridge Aid; How Cost Borne. – When public convenience and necessity require the construction or reconstruction of any bridge on a class II, IV, or V highway or a county-owned road the cost shall be borne 1/5 by the municipality and 4/5 by the state. When public convenience and necessity require the reconstruction of any county-owned bridge, the cost shall be borne 1/5 by the county and 4/5 by the state.

Source. 1921, 155:2. 1925, 126:1. PL 85:2. 1929, 131:1. 1931, 67:1. 1935, 26:3. 1937, 122:1. RL 101:2. 1945, 188:1, part 14:9. 1949, 229:1. RSA 242:9. 1957, 133:1. 1967, 436:1. 1971, 25:1. 1977, 79:2. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 78:6. 1993, 284:3. 2008, 380:2, eff. July 1, 2008.

Section 234:10-a

    234:10-a Limitations on Bridge Aid. – No aid shall be granted under this chapter to any municipality for reconstruction or repair of a destroyed or damaged bridge for which the municipality has been 100 percent indemnified by insurance; except that municipalities which are reconstructing, repairing, or rebuilding bridges 100 percent indemnified by insurance and the cost is beyond the costs actually recovered from insurance shall be eligible for bridge aid and may use the insurance recovered to offset the required match to the extent needed. The municipality shall add all of its insurance recovered to the project to receive bridge aid. Costs of projects may include, but shall not be limited to, design, engineering, abutments, enhanced structural integrity and safety features.

Source. 1993, 358:97. 1994, 155:2, eff. July 22, 1994.

Section 234:11

    234:11 Limitations. – The commissioner of transportation may limit the amount of bridge aid for the construction or reconstruction of bridges costing more than $1,000,000.

Source. 1945, 188:1, part 14:10. RSA 242:10. 1957, 134:1. 1967, 436:2. 1971, 25:2. 1977, 79:3. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 78:7, eff. July 9, 1985.

Section 234:12

    234:12 In 2 Municipalities. – When a bridge crosses the boundary line between 2 municipalities within the state, the 1/5 cost to be borne by a municipality pursuant to RSA 234:10 shall be borne by the 2 municipalities in proportion to their last equalized valuations, unless by mutual concurrence the 2 municipalities agree to some other financial arrangement to provide the required share of cost.

Source. 1921, 155:6. PL 85:12. 1935, 26:4. RL 101:12. 1945, 188:1, part 14:11. RSA 242:11. 1977, 79:4. 1981, 87:1. 1994, 317:2, eff. Aug. 7, 1994.

Section 234:13

    234:13 Interstate Bridges. – Any city or town may contract with any adjoining state or with a political subdivision thereof for the construction, reconstruction and maintenance of any bridge crossing the boundary line between New Hampshire and such adjoining state on a class IV or class V highway and for the proportion which the city or town in New Hampshire shall contribute towards the cost thereof.

Source. 1945, 188:1, part 14:12. RSA 242:12. 1981, 87:1, eff. April 20, 1981.

Section 234:14

    234:14 Bridges in Unincorporated Places. – Whenever a bridge is to be constructed or reconstructed with bridge aid in an unincorporated place the county commissioners shall set apart and remit the cost to be borne by such place from the money raised and appropriated for the repair or construction of highways within the county.

Source. 1945, 188:1, part 14:13. RSA 242:13. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 78:8, eff. July 9, 1985.

Section 234:15

    234:15 Construction to Begin. – Upon approval of the plans and specifications and the municipality or municipalities interested have raised or set aside their proportional share of the estimated cost, the commissioner of transportation shall proceed with the construction of the bridge.

Source. 1945, 188:1, part 14:14. 1950, 5:1, part 9:1, par. 2. RSA 242:14. 1977, 79:5. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 402:6, I(b)(5).

Section 234:16

    234:16 Joint Fund Expenditure. – Fifty percent of the contribution of the municipality or municipalities shall be remitted to the commissioner of transportation before any such bridge project is begun, and the balance shall be remitted on completion of the project, and such contribution together with the amount contributed by the state shall constitute a joint fund to be expended under the supervision and direction of the commissioner of transportation.

Source. 1921, 155:4. PL 85:8. RL 101:8. 1945, 188:1, part 14:15. 1950, 5:1, part 9:1, par. 2. RSA 242:15. 1975, 6:2. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 402:6, I(b)(5).

Section 234:17

    234:17 Account. – On completion of any bridge he shall render an itemized statement of the complete cost of construction to the municipality or municipalities interested.

Source. 1921, 155:5. PL 85:10. RL 101:10. 1945, 188:1, part 14:16. RSA 242:16. 1981, 87:1, eff. April 20, 1981.

Section 234:18

    234:18 Balance; Deficit. – Whenever, upon the completion of the bridge, the joint fund has not been expended in full, the unexpended balance shall revert to the state and municipality or municipalities in the same proportion as each contributed; and, whenever the cost of construction has exceeded the estimated cost, the municipality or municipalities interested shall forthwith, upon receipt of the itemized statement from the commissioner of transportation, remit to him their proportional shares of such additional cost.

Source. 1921, 155:5. PL 85:11. RL 101:11. 1945, 188:1, part 14:17. 1950, 5:1, part 9:1, par. 2. RSA 242:17. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 402:6, I(b)(5).

Section 234:19

    234:19 Maintenance. – All bridges constructed or reconstructed with bridge aid funds and which are located on class II highways shall be maintained by the state.

Source. 1921, 155:7. PL 85:13. 1935, 26:5. 1937, 122:2. RL 101:13. 1945, 188:1, part 14:18. RSA 242:18. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 78:9, eff. July 9, 1985.

Section 234:20

    234:20 Town Bridge Maintenance. – All bridges constructed or reconstructed with bridge aid funds and which are located on class V highways shall be maintained and repaired to the satisfaction of the commissioner of transportation by the towns in which such bridges are located. In case any city, town or unincorporated place whose duty it is to maintain and repair any such bridge neglects to maintain, or to make repairs, as ordered by the commissioner of transportation, such maintenance work or repairs shall be done under his direction at the expense of the state, and the cost thereof plus 10 percent shall be paid by such city, town, or place to the state treasurer; and in default of such payment the state treasurer may issue an extent as provided in RSA 85 for the collection of such payment.

Source. 1921, 155:7. PL 85:13. 1935, 26:5. 1937, 122:2. RL 101:13. 1945, 188:1, part 14:19. 1950, 5:1, part 9:1, par. 2. RSA 242:19. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 78:10, eff. July 9, 1985; 402:6, I(b)(5).

Bridge Inspection

Section 234:21

    234:21 Policy. – It is hereby declared to be the policy of this state that bridges on regularly maintained highways be inspected as herein provided.

Source. RSA 242-A:1. 1969, 222:1. 1981, 87:1, eff. April 20, 1981.

Section 234:22

    234:22 Bridges on Class I, II and III Highways. – The commissioner of transportation shall make a biennial inspection of bridges on class I, II and III highways. Records of said inspections shall be kept by the department of transportation. The commissioner of transportation may employ such assistants, engineers or consulting services as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this subdivision.

Source. RSA 242-A:2. 1969, 222:1. 1973, 554:3. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 402:6, I(b)(5).

Section 234:23

    234:23 Bridges on Class IV and V Highways and Municipally Maintained Bridges on Class II Highways. – The town or city official in charge of highways, or the selectmen of a town, shall make a biennial inspection of bridges on class IV or V highways and town or city maintained bridges on class II highways. Records of said inspection shall be kept by the town or city. Such town or city officials, or the selectmen of a town, may employ such qualified assistants, engineers or other services as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this section. Evidence of compliance with this section shall be a prerequisite to application for state bridge aid funds. Inspection reports shall be of a standard form in current use by the department of transportation.

Source. RSA 242-A:3. 1969, 222:1. 1973, 554:1. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 402:6, I(a)(5).

Section 234:24

    234:24 Inspection and Report. – As a further prerequisite to application for state bridge aid funds an inspection and report shall be made by, or under the supervision of, a registered professional engineer experienced in bridge design and acceptable to the commissioner of transportation.

Source. RSA 242-A:3-a. 1973, 554:2. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 402:6, I(b)(5).

Section 234:25

    234:25 Assistance to Towns and Cities. – The commissioner of transportation shall, upon request of any town or city, inspect a bridge or bridges in said town or city and supply a copy of the record of said inspection at no expense to the town or city, provided that sufficient qualified personnel are available to make such inspections.

Source. RSA 242-A:4. 1969, 222:1. 1979, 482:3. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 402:6, I(b)(5).

Red List Bridges

Section 234:25-a

    234:25-a Red List Bridges. –
I. The commissioner of transportation shall establish and maintain a list of highway bridges that are found, after inspection by the department, to be structurally deficient, which shall be known as red list bridges. This list shall also include structurally deficient state-owned railroad bridges over highways.
II. Separate red lists shall be established and maintained for state-owned bridges and for bridges owned by municipalities.
III. Both red lists under paragraph II shall specify whether a bridge is structurally deficient. The department of transportation shall number and prioritize all state-owned red list bridges relative to the need for repair or replacement.
IV. Any red list bridge that is closed as a result of a department of transportation recommendation shall remain on the red list along with the date of closure and the reason it was closed. Red list bridges shall be removed from the red list when the department certifies that the bridge has been satisfactorily repaired or replaced, or the department permanently closes any state-owned red list bridge, or when the governing body of the municipality permanently closes any municipally-owned red list bridge.
V. In this chapter, a structurally deficient bridge means a bridge with a primary element in poor or worse condition (National Bridge Inventory (NBI) rating of 4 or less).

Source. 2014, 126:1, eff. Aug. 15, 2014. 2017, 227:4, 5, eff. July 1, 2017.

Section 234:25-b

    234:25-b Inspection of Red List Bridges; Report. –
I. The department of transportation shall inspect every red list state-owned bridge on the red list biannually and every red list municipal bridge annually as a minimum.
II. The department of transportation shall annually provide a complete list of state-owned and municipally-owned red list bridges to the governor, the executive council, the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, and the house and senate standing committees with jurisdiction over highways and bridges. Additionally the department shall annually notify the governing bodies of municipalities of any red list bridges owned by such municipality and any state-owned red list bridge within such municipality. These reports and notifications shall be provided on or before April 1 of each year.

Source. 2014, 126:1, eff. Aug. 15, 2014. 2017, 227:6, eff. July 1, 2017.

Rehabilitation of Covered Wooden Bridges

Section 234:26

    234:26 Department of Transportation; Authorization. –
The department of transportation is hereby authorized to assist in the rehabilitation of existing wooden covered bridges upon the state secondary and town road systems in the proportions set forth under RSA 234:10 and 11, for the following purposes:
(a) Replacing of floor beams and reflooring.
(b) Reroofing.
(c) Repair or replacement of truss members or wooden arch members.
(d) Replacement or repair of piers, abutments and wing walls.

Source. 1953, 184:1. RSA 243:1. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 402:6, I(a)(5).

Section 234:27

    234:27 Carrying Capacity of Bridge. – No funds shall be expended unless such bridge may be rehabilitated to a carrying capacity of at least 6 tons.

Source. 1953, 184:2. RSA 243:2. 1981, 87:1, eff. April 20, 1981.

Section 234:28

    234:28 Limitation on Expenditures. –
I. The total amount that may be expended on any bridge under this subdivision for the above purpose shall in no instance exceed the estimated sum that might be necessary for the construction or reconstruction of a bridge under RSA 234:4, 10 and 11.
II. The commissioner of transportation may waive the requirement for a new covered bridge that replaces a covered bridge which was destroyed within the previous 5 years of application under RSA 234:5.

Source. 1953, 184:3. RSA 243:3. 1981, 87:1. 1993, 284:4, eff. July 1, 1993.

Section 234:29

    234:29 Repealed by 1995, 4:2, II, eff. Jan. 1, 1996. –

Section 234:30

    234:30 Repealed by 1995, 4:2, III, eff. Jan. 1, 1996. –

Section 234:31

    234:31 Preservation of Unused Bridges. – Any municipality, upon a vote of approval at a town meeting or by city council, may recommend to the state historic preservation office that any unused covered wooden bridge over which it has jurisdiction be considered as an historic site and conveyed to the state of New Hampshire. The state historic preservation officer shall solicit expert opinion from such sources as are available to him and hold a public hearing on the proposal. Upon recommendation by the office and subject to approval by the governor and council, the municipality shall transfer and relinquish all rights and controls over said premises to the office.

Source. RSA 243:6. 1973, 241:1. 1981, 87:1. 1985, 345:2.

Bridge Regulations

Section 234:32

    234:32 Bylaws of Towns. – Towns may establish bylaws to establish and post reasonable speed limits over any bridge maintained by the town, and any violation of the bylaws shall constitute a violation. Any fines collected under this section shall inure to the use of the town.

Source. 1860, 2374:1. GS 71:4. GL 77:4. PS 78:4. PL 93:12. RL 109:12. 1945, 188:1, part 21:8. RSA 251:8. 1973, 531:80. 1981, 87:1. 1996, 38:1, eff. June 23, 1996.

Section 234:33

    234:33 Repealed by 1996, 38:2, I, eff. June 23, 1996. –

Section 234:34

    234:34 Repealed by 1996, 38:2, II, eff. June 23, 1996. –

Section 234:35

    234:35 Repealed by 1996, 38:2, III, eff. June 23, 1996. –

Section 234:36

    234:36 Repealed by 1996, 38:2, IV, eff. June 23, 1996. –

Section 234:37

    234:37 Interference With Lighting; Penalty. – Any person unlawfully removing or injuring any lamp or fixture, or extinguishing any light used for lighting such bridge, shall be guilty of a violation, and shall be liable to the town for all damages occasioned thereby.

Source. 1863, 2733:4. GS 71:11. GL 77:11. PS 78:11. PL 93:20. RL 109:20. 1945, 188:1, part 21:14. RSA 251:14. 1973, 531:82. 1981, 87:1, eff. April 20, 1981.

Section 234:38

    234:38 Closing Highways; Detours; Penalty. – The selectmen of a town or the mayor of a city, may, by appropriate barriers and signs, temporarily close or regulate travel on any class IV or class V highway or bridge thereon, in order to perform work on such highway or bridge, and may establish, maintain and mark detours. Any person who travels on such closed highway or bridge, or who violates the provisions of such regulations, shall be fined not more than $100.

Source. 1945, 188:1, part 21:15. RSA 251:15. 1981, 87:1, eff. April 20, 1981.

Section 234:39

    234:39 Load Limits on Town Bridges; Posting. – Except as otherwise provided by law all town bridges not constructed with town bridge aid funds and which the town has the duty to maintain shall have a carrying capacity of at least 6 tons. The selectmen shall cause notice of the load limit of such town bridge to be posted on or near the entrances of such bridge. Such town bridges may be posted for a load limit of less than 6 tons but not less than 3 tons when application has been made for town bridge aid pursuant to the provisions of this chapter and action on such application is pending.

Source. 1945, 188:1, part 21:16. RSA 251:16. 1959, 288:4. 1981, 87:1, eff. April 20, 1981.

Section 234:40

    234:40 Permit to Exceed Load Limit. – The selectmen of the town or the street commissioner of the city in which such bridge is situate, may grant a written permit to carry a load in excess of such posted load limit on such conditions and under such regulations as such selectmen or street commissioner believe will permit a safe travel of such excessive load without damage to such bridge.

Source. 1945, 188:1, part 21:17. RSA 251:17. 1981, 87:1, eff. April 20, 1981.

Section 234:41

    234:41 Penalty. – Any person who operates or attempts to operate any vehicle on such bridge when the weight of the load, inclusive of the vehicle exceeds such posted load limit, without such permit, or who operates or attempts to operate any vehicle on such bridge in violation of such conditions and regulations, shall be fined not more than $100.

Source. 1945, 188:1, part 21:18. RSA 251:18. 1981, 87:1, eff. April 20, 1981.

Military Defense of Interstate Bridges

Section 234:42

    234:42 Interstate Agreements. – In order equitably to allocate responsibilities between this and adjoining states for the security of interstate bridges and other interstate structures and facilities, in time of war or military emergency or when hostile destructive acts on the part of enemy agents have occurred, are anticipated, or are suspected, the governor is hereby authorized to negotiate and to enter into formal agreements with the governors of the commonwealth of Massachusetts and of the states of Maine and Vermont relative to the protection of such interstate bridges, structures and facilities, provided such other states are authorized to enter into similar defensive agreements. Such agreements shall set forth the specific interstate bridges, structures or facilities for which each state is to provide military protection, if required by war or military emergency, or if requested under such circumstances by the appropriate authorities of the armed forces of the United States. The agreements may authorize the entrance into and the continued presence within this state of the military forces of such other states whenever and to such extent as may be required to carry out the purposes of this subdivision. A copy of each such interstate agreement shall be furnished by the adjutant general to such persons as he may deem necessary.

Source. RSA 258-A:1. 1957, 147:3. 1981, 87:1, eff. April 20, 1981.

Portsmouth-Kittery Bridge

Section 234:43 to 234:66

    234:43 to 234:66 Repealed by 2019, 346:149, I, eff. July 1, 2019. –

Section 234:67 to 234:69

    234:67 to 234:69 Repealed by 2019, 346:149, II, eff. July 1, 2019. –