Task force proposes funding for Maine–N.H. bridges

States need $500 million to maintain or replace three “lifeline” bridges

News Bangor Daily News December 15, 2010
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Transportation experts from Maine and New Hampshire have released recommendations on how to raise $500 million to maintain or replace three bridges connecting the two states over the next 30 years, the Bangor Daily News reported.

The bridges are the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, the Memorial Bridge and the Piscataqua River Bridge.

“It’s our lifeline,” said David Cole, Maine’s commissioner of transportation, at a meeting of the task force formed to fund the bridges. “If you look at the state economy, it all funnels down to those bridges.”

New Hampshire transportation officials believe the bridges should be replaced. Maine officials have considered removing Memorial Bridge. The bistate task force, created by the two states’ governors, is committed to maintaining all three bridges.

Memorial Bridge between Portsmouth and Kittery was closed in early December because of “hazardous deterioration,” according to the Bangor Daily News. Temporary repairs were estimated at $30,000 to make it possible to reopen the bridge by the end of the year.

The task force’s recommendations included seeking federal funds, selling a portion of the highway to the Maine Turnpike Authority and contributions from both states into a dedicated fund administered by the Interstate Bridge Authority. The task force estimated that maintaining and replacing the bridges would cost $506.4 million over the next 30 years.

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