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NHDOT Decides to Permanently Close Sarah Long Bridge to Vehicular Traffic

A mechanical issue in the south bridge tower was discovered on the morning of Aug. 21.

Wed September 07, 2016 - Northeast Edition #18
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Engineers from NHDOT and MaineDOT, along with movable bridge experts, have determined the bridge is not safe for routine operation without complicated and extensive repairs.
Engineers from NHDOT and MaineDOT, along with movable bridge experts, have determined the bridge is not safe for routine operation without complicated and extensive repairs.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) and Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) have decided to permanently close to motor vehicle traffic the 76-year-old Sarah Mildred Long Bridge connecting Portsmouth, N.H., and Kittery, Maine. This action follows a mechanical failure of the lift bridge on Aug. 21.

The mechanical issue in the south bridge tower was discovered on the morning of Aug. 21. Engineers were able to lift the bridge to the “up” position at about 1:00 a.m. on Aug. 22 to accommodate marine traffic. By keeping the bridge in this position, federal law, which requires a bridge to be accessible to marine traffic at all times, is adhered to.

Engineers from NHDOT and MaineDOT, along with movable bridge experts, have determined the bridge is not safe for routine operation without complicated and extensive repairs. The estimated cost of repairs is upwards of $1 million and would take more than six weeks to complete. Careful consideration has been given to the negative impact to motorists and the communities, versus the cost, time and uncertainty involved in any repair of this magnitude.

The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge was already scheduled to close permanently in 10 weeks on Nov. 1, 2016 to make way for continuing construction of the new Sarah Mildred Long Bridge that is on schedule to open in September 2017.

Detours are in place for motorists to use alternative routes between Portsmouth and Kittery via the Interstate 95 “High Level” Bridge and the Memorial Bridge (U.S. Route 1).

The Long Bridge will continue to remain open for marine traffic on the Piscataqua River.

For more information, visit http://maine.gov/mdot/sml/.


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