Some bemoan proposed design of NH-Maine bridge

Posted Dec. 03, 2010, at 11:02 a.m.

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Maine and New Hampshire officials have come to terms with repairing or replacing a pair of bridges between Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine.

Now they’re getting down to design. And some people say they don’t like a proposed design for the Memorial Bridge replacement, criticizing it as looking too much like the old bridge.

New Hampshire Department of Transportation project manager Robert Landry said he thought that was what the public wanted for a proposed replacement to the aging bridge across the Piscataqua River. Landry tells the Portsmouth Herald his designers are now coming up with a “more modern” lift span.

“I’ve heard loud and clear that people want to look at an alternative, and we’re developing a new rendering,” he said.

Maine and New Hampshire officials have agreed to replace the Memorial Bridge. Demolition begins in 18 months.

Last week, Maine and New Hampshire officials also agreed to rehabilitate the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, which includes a rail line serving Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. That’ll happen after Memorial Bridge is replaced.

All told, there are three bridges between Kittery and Portsmouth, including the Interstate 95 bridge, which also is due for costly maintenance in the next few years. Maine previously entertained the possibility of eliminating one of the three bridges, but that option is no longer on the table.

In addition to coming up with a design, Maine and New Hampshire must come up with funding for replacing Memorial Bridge, rehabilitating the Sara Mildred Long and maintaining the I-95 bridge.

A task force that’s looking at the three bridges says the long-term costs of construction, rehabilitation and maintenance could reach $620 million over three decades. The panel has until mid-December to come up with a final report, which will be presented to the governors of both states.

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