KITTERY, Maine — A deteriorating bridge connecting Maine and New Hampshire will be getting a multimillion-dollar replacement.
Top elected officials from the two states joined U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Wednesday as he formally announced a $20 million federal grant to help pay for the replacement of the aging Memorial Bridge that links Kittery and Portsmouth, N.H. The grant will help New Hampshire partner with Maine to replace the 87-year-old bridge along U.S. 1.
“The Memorial Bridge replacement project is vital to the region’s economy, not only because it will create jobs, but because it will also eliminate barriers to freight movement and improve access to the region’s transportation network,” LaHood said at a ceremony near the bridge.
The metal truss lift bridge is the only pedestrian and bicycle crossing of the river, in addition to handling vehicle traffic. It was dedicated in 1923 to World War I veterans.
From New Hampshire, LaHood was joined by Gov. John Lynch, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. From Maine, he was joined by Gov. John Baldacci, Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, and Rep. Chellie Pingree.
In August, a rusted chunk of metal fell from the bridge. Earlier this month, the two governors signed executive orders to create a task force to come up with as much as $300 million needed over the next several years to upgrade the bridge and another one — the Sarah Long Bridge — over the Piscataqua River.
The governors also recognized the need to maintain the much newer Piscataqua Bridge, which has been carrying Interstate 95 traffic since 1972.