Maine-NH bridge reopens ahead of schedule

Posted Dec. 20, 2010, at 9:25 a.m.
New Hampshire transportation officials inspect the Memorial Bridge connecting Portsmouth, N.H., with Kittery, Maine, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010, in Portsmouth. The Through Truss Left bridge opened in 1923 and was closed for inspection as Maine and New Hampshire officials figure out how to replace or repair the historic bridge that connects the two states. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
AP | AP
New Hampshire transportation officials inspect the Memorial Bridge connecting Portsmouth, N.H., with Kittery, Maine, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010, in Portsmouth. The Through Truss Left bridge opened in 1923 and was closed for inspection as Maine and New Hampshire officials figure out how to replace or repair the historic bridge that connects the two states. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
New Hampshire transportation officials inspect the Memorial Bridge connecting Portsmouth, N.H., with Kittery, Maine, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010, in Portsmouth. The Through Truss Left bridge opened in 1923 and was closed for inspection as Maine and New Hampshire officials figure out how to replace or repair the historic bridge that connects the two states. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
AP | AP
New Hampshire transportation officials inspect the Memorial Bridge connecting Portsmouth, N.H., with Kittery, Maine, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010, in Portsmouth. The Through Truss Left bridge opened in 1923 and was closed for inspection as Maine and New Hampshire officials figure out how to replace or repair the historic bridge that connects the two states. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
New Hampshire transportation officials, upper right, inspect the Memorial Bridge connecting Portsmouth, N.H., with Kittery, Maine, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010, in Portsmouth. The Through Truss Left bridge opened in 1923 and was closed for inspection as Maine and New Hampshire officials figure out how to replace or repair the historic bridge that connects the two states. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
AP | AP
New Hampshire transportation officials, upper right, inspect the Memorial Bridge connecting Portsmouth, N.H., with Kittery, Maine, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010, in Portsmouth. The Through Truss Left bridge opened in 1923 and was closed for inspection as Maine and New Hampshire officials figure out how to replace or repair the historic bridge that connects the two states. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

PORTSMOUTH, N.H.— Business owners on both sides of the Memorial Bridge between Portsmouth, N.H. and Kittery, Maine, say they’re thrilled the aging span was reopened to traffic two weeks earlier than scheduled.

Some business owners say their sales had dropped from 30 to 50 percent after the bridge over the Piscataqua River was closed Dec. 9 because it was deemed unsafe.

But the New Hampshire Department of Transportation completed emergency repairs quicker than expected. Construction on a new bridge is set to begin in mid-2012.

“Dedicated bridge maintenance personnel and dry weather have allowed the reopening of the Memorial Bridge to occur much quicker than anticipated,” said George Campbell, commissioner of the N.H. Department of Transportation.

The Memorial Bridge will continue to be open under the previous three-ton weight limit. The sidewalk on the upstream side of the bridge will remain closed for a couple of days to complete non-structural work, while the sidewalk on the downstream side of the bridge will remain open. Lift operations will continue for marine traffic.

Justin Hebert of Hebert Brothers Seafood in Kittery tells the Portsmouth Herald the closing of the bridge was like “turning off a faucet.” He says its being open again is “a sigh of relief.”

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