BRIDGE REPLACEMENT: Maine-New Hampshire bridge stuck open, may not be worth fixing

The 76-year-old Sarah Mildred Long Bridge is already expected to close permanently in November

August 23, 2016
Sarah Mildred Long Bridge
Sarah Mildred Long Bridge

Officials in New Hampshire and Maine will decide this week whether they will make repairs to the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge or leave it in the up position.

The historic bridge became stuck on Sunday at approximately 11 a.m. EST, and workers could not raise it to allow for boats to pass. At 10 p.m., they started work to raise a moveable span and it malfunctioned again at 1 a.m., this time staying in the up position.

The bridge is expected to close permanently Nov. 1, and officials will weigh whether or not repairs to the 76-year-old structure are worth it. Construction began in January of 2015 to replace the bridge. The new bridge is expected to be finished in September of 2017.

The Sarah Long Bridge is a double-deck truss bridge that has a rail line on the lower deck. In addition to the main lift span and its two towers, it has a second moving span that is apparent only to water and rail traffic. A non-trussed section of the rail bed lifts up and retracts on the north side of the bridge, creating a space large enough for most recreational boats to pass through.

Approximately 14,000 vehicles a day cross the bridge, which connects Portsmouth, N.H., and Kittery, Maine, via U.S. Route 1 Bypass. Officials are asking people to use the I-95 bridge connecting New Hampshire and Maine. The Memorial Bridge is open for local traffic as well.

Replacing the Sarah Long Bridge is costing $172 million, and the expense is being split between the states of New Hampshire and Maine.