Repair work on I-95′s high-level bridge over the Piscataqua River connecting Portsmouth, N.H., and Kittery, Maine, is estimated to take two to three construction seasons beginning in spring of 2018 until completion in either 2020 or 2021.
At a public meeting Monday night, hosted by both state departments of transportation, representatives of the bridge’s design contractors, T.Y. Lin International, presented their preliminary design review (PDR). Representatives from T.Y. Lin indicated the Piscataqua River Bridge maintenance would cost approximately $28 million, with the general contract expected to go out to bid later this year and construction slated to take place in early spring of 2019.
The high-level bridge is considered by both Maine’s and New Hampshire’s transportation departments to be far too costly to replace due to its height and length. The construction schedule would depend on how much winter work the prospective contractor would be able to accomplish at a reasonable cost and could make the difference between finishing the work by 2020 or the following year.
The scope of the project entails replacing the side railings with concrete barriers, installing a new center barrier, laying new asphalt, concrete deck patching and replacing the bridge’s joints that make for a bumpy ride for motorists while crossing.
A major feature of renovation would be for allowing the use of the bridge’s 12-ft-wide breakdown lanes as additional travel lanes during high-volume traffic. T.Y. Lin’s PDR called for the installation of intelligent transportation system technology, which would feature overhead lane assignment signs, variable speed limit signs and sensor-controlled camera monitoring.
In order to keep construction crews safe during the work, the design team is proposing initially shutting down the southbound on-ramp at exit 1 on I-95 in Kittery, as well as the northbound on-ramp at exit 7 in Portsmouth. The contractor would only work on one side of the highway at a time, and three lanes would be open at all times during the summer months between Memorial Day and Columbus Day.