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For EXTRA credit - which of the following do you have the best chance of ever encountering in your lifetime?
A. The mythical Unicorn B. The Circumferential Highway
The correct answer is of course “A” If you selected “B” don’t beat yourself up - at one time or another we have all been taken in by New Hampshire’s very own version of the “Grail Legend.”
Whenever some outside developer comes into town looking to get rich at Hudson’s expense - more often than not having to do with the Green Meadows Golf Course property - their enablers at the local and state levels, in an attempt to take the residents’ eye off of the ball, dust off the Circumferential Highway “nursery tale”.
This was the case during the Life Style Center, and Hudson Casino failed efforts during the 2005-1214 timeframe. With your indulgence, I would pause here for just a moment to simply ask if we can all agree that the words “Hudson Destination Resort” should never be used or appear in the same sentence. The Circumferential Highway was a “piggy-back” consequence of President Eisenhower’s coast-to-coast interstate highway program back in the late 1950s. I’m sure that back then there were a few honest and forward-thinking folks who saw the Circumferential Highway as a possible response to future transportation requirements in Southern New Hampshire.
Sadly, that was not the focus of most people who came in contact with the project during subsequent years. Put simply, the Circumferential Highway… DOES NOT EXIST WILL NEVER EXIST AND, WAS NEVER MEANT TO EXIST Over the last 30 or so years, I have had the opportunity to meet and speak with a number of folks who had extensive experience with, knowledge of and insight into the unique New Hampshire “Way” - and how it has related to the Circumferential Highway.
The tale they told was always the same - initially conceived to take advantage of President Eisenhower’s commitment to a nationwide highway system, the Circumferential Highway, over the decades evolved into an extremely lucrative “money-making scam”.
With tens of millions of Federal dollars available, a great many people here in NH took advantage of a, some might say, fortuitous lack of oversight into the expenditure of the funds flowing into the Granite State from Washington.
Beginning in the 1960s and continuing for the next 40+ years, many “prominent” families from Hudson, the Nashua region and throughout the state - our very own “goober aristocracy” - became phenomenally wealthy as a result of land sales, transfers and speculation, all in the name of a project that was never going to happen - and, in all probability, was never actually meant to be accomplished in the first place.
Given that the free flow of Federal funds came to an end some time ago, the central question remains - just why is the Circumferential Highway still around.
Other than being used to misdirect, misinform and give false hope to Hudson’s residents every time some outside developer comes to Town looking for an easy score - why does the Circumferential Highway remain on the “books” (NRPC, DOT, Master Plans, etc.)
From what I have been told over the years - here’s where it gets more than a little messy. Remember those tens of millions of Federal dollars that found their way into New Hampshire over the course of the last 4 or 5 decades - never to be seen again.
It’s entirely possible that somewhere deep in the bowels of the Government Accounting Office (GAO) in Washington, an old-time bookkeeper has been diligently keeping tabs on just what the Granite State has received.
With absolutely nothing to show for all those dollars it’s a pretty safe bet that if the Circumferential Highway was ever to be “officially” terminated, the State (read: taxpayers) might well be forced to pay back all of that money (possibly, with interest).
That’s what happens on those rare occasions when the “bean-counters” in Washington can’t ignore the reality of a Federally-funded project that was not only never completed but never actually even attempted.
It makes sense then, and would appear to be in the best interest of a great many people to maintain the illusion and delusion provided by the Circumferential Highway. My advice - don’t stop looking for that Unicorn! Best regards, Bill