BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION: New Memorial Bridge opens from Maine to N.H.

New Memorial Bridge is the first truss bridge in the U.S. built without gusset plates

August 09, 2013

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez joined New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) and state and local officials to celebrate the opening of the new Memorial Bridge connecting Portsmouth, N.H., and Kittery, Maine. The cost of the bridge is $90 million and includes $79.3 million in federal funds, including a $20 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant.

"The opening of the Memorial Bridge means that residents and visitors alike will no longer have to waste their valuable time going through out-of-the-way detours," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians who are traveling to and from the downtown sections of Portsmouth and Kittery once again have a direct route."

The new bridge, one of three crossings over the Piscataqua River between Portsmouth and Kittery, replaces the aged Memorial Bridge, which was permanently closed to traffic for safety reasons in July 2011, inconveniencing residents and businesses in the region. Typically 12,100 vehicles used the bridge on a given day.

"This bridge is a great example of innovation at work," Mendez said. "It's exciting to see a project going beyond 'newer and better' by using ingenuity and cutting-edge approaches."

The new Memorial Bridge is the first truss bridge in the U.S. built without gusset plates, which connect bridge beams, or trusses, together. Instead, the metal sections are all uniform in size so they fit together like puzzle pieces through a process called splicing.

The steel portions of the new bridge are finished with a metalized coating expected to last 40-50 years without requiring maintenance.

The three spans have a consistent design that expedited construction while maintaining the look of the old bridge. The new lift bridge has a modern control house with windows that provide a 360° view to enhance visibility for operators and improve safety.