Extreme cold freezes Kittery bridge open; I-95 only route open to Portsmouth

Posted Jan. 23, 2013, at 3:52 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 24, 2013, at 10:17 a.m.

KITTERY, Maine — The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, connecting Kittery and Portsmouth, N.H., is stuck “open” and is expected not to be accessible at least until Friday morning.

Ted Talbot of the Maine Department of Transportation said bridge controllers attempted to open the connector for marine traffic around 1:30 p.m. when the bridge got stuck.

“It’s open only a few feet in the air, so if you were Smokey and the Bandit you could take it,” Talbot said. “But if you’re not, we recommend against it.”

Talbot said the recent cold snap likely was a factor in the bridge becoming stuck.

“We’re thinking it will be closed for one or two more days. An engineering crew from Concord, N.H., will be arriving to start repairs at 6 a.m. Thursday and Maine DOT has also offered assistance, and may loan an under-bridge crane.”

Talbot said with the Memorial Bridge being rebuilt and Sarah Mildred Long Bridge being repaired, there’s only one remaining span over the river at Kittery.

“That leaves the [I-]95 high-level bridge, which is used to transport 75 percent of Maine’s GDP into Maine, as the only working span right now,” he said. “And it also presents an issue for maritime traffic as well, even though the expected amount of that marine traffic through that channel isn’t expected to be heavy for the next few.”

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.