Portsmouth-Kittery drawbridge could reopen to traffic Monday

The Memorial and Sarah Mildred Long bridges, two of the three bridges that link Maine to New Hampshire over the Piscataqua River.
Maine Department of Transportation
The Memorial and Sarah Mildred Long bridges, two of the three bridges that link Maine to New Hampshire over the Piscataqua River.
Posted Jan. 27, 2013, at 8:55 a.m.

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge that has been closed to traffic since last Wednesday could be reopened by Monday morning.

Maine Department of Transportation spokesman Ted Talbot said Saturday night that the bridge reopened to marine traffic at 6:40 p.m Saturday allowing vessels — including oil tankers — to pass through the channel.

The bridge was scheduled to close again at 2 p.m. Sunday for further testing.

Talbot said the DOT hopes to have the bridge reopened for vehicular traffic on Monday morning.

The drawbridge’s center span became dislodged Wednesday during a “routine lift” at about 1:20 p.m., according to NHDOT spokesman Bill Boynton. The bridge’s tracking mechanism was damaged in the process, leaving the span stuck about a foot above the roadway, Boynton said.

Completed in 1940, the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge provides a pivotal connection for motorists traveling between Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine.

The steel structure measures 2,800 feet, and carries the Route 1 Bypass over the Piscataqua River. On an average day, an estimated 16,000 vehicles cross over the bridge.

The cause of Wednesday’s mechanical failure has not been determined.

Boynton said the bridge’s center span was being lifted as a routine exercise to ensure it was still functioning properly in cold weather.

“It’s a bridge that’s had issues in cold weather before, and it also dates back to the early 1940s,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to get it operational.”

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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