Bedford scores stimulus cash

MANCHESTER — Bedford got the seventh-most of any New Hampshire community from the first phase of federal stimulus money, according to a report released last month.

The town received $11.8 million thus far, much of it for work on the Manchester Airport access road, which will split off from the F.E. Everett Turnpike at the Bedford Toll Plaza.

The stimulus spending also included funds for a traffic light at the intersection of Route 101 and Nashua Road, a project that voters turned down in the March Town Meeting, citing cost concerns.

Last month, Acting State Stimulus Office Director Orville “Bud” Fitch released an initial progress report on $336 million in discretionary federal stimulus money that thus far has flowed into the state. The figures will be updated quarterly.

Manchester, Windham and Concord topped the list of stimulus recipients statewide. Manchester received the most, $40.6 million, while the capital city, Concord, got $24.3 million.

Locally, other grant totals thus far were Goffstown ($2.5 million), Amherst ($535,959), Merrimack ($1.2 million), Milford ($874,288), Mont Vernon ($57,867) and Temple ($0).

The $336 million in grants do not include more than $200 million that went to the state and county governments by increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates and the $160 million the state used in stimulus grants to finance an increase in state education aid.
It also does not include $14 million that’s gone to the unemployed, who got an extra $25 in their weekly benefit thanks to the federal stimulus law.

The report also revealed that through the end of June that stimulus money created or saved 796 jobs, with 700 of those state workers who did not have to get laid off thanks to the federal grants, Fitch said.

Federal highway money accounted for 75 jobs and weatherization programs kept or added 16 to the payroll, he added.

Road or building project locale, rather than median income or economic woes, played a big part in communities that received an Obama administration windfall.

For example, Windham is only the 21st largest community in the state with more than 11,500 residents, but it received the second greatest grant total, $27.6 million.

That’s because more than 95 percent of the money going to the town — $27.3 million — is to pay for widening that stretch of Interstate 93 that goes through the town.

Fitch noted that stimulus money going to programs like the anti-poverty Southern New Hampshire Services Inc. is listed as going to Manchester but spread throughout the southern tier to include Nashua.