Denise Goldberg's blog

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Watching the construction of the new Memorial Bridge between Portsmouth and Kittery was interesting and relatively easy since there were piers right next to the bridge where I could stand. Now the middle bridge between Portsmouth and Kittery is the construction target, the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge.

It crosses a section of the river where there is little access (for me) to stand and watch.

The old bridge was scheduled to remain open until November 1, 2016. That changed on Sunday when there was a mechanical failure of the lift bridge. From a press release on the Maine DOT Sarah Mildred Long Bridge web site:

The mechanical issue in the south bridge tower was discovered on the morning of August 21. Engineers were able to lift the bridge to the “up” position at about 1:00 am on Monday, August 22 to accommodate marine traffic. By keeping the bridge in this position, federal law, which requires a bridge to be accessible to marine traffic at all times, is adhered to.

Repairs were estimated to cost in the $1,000,000 price range so a decision was made to close the (old) bridge now, leaving the lift section in the "up" position.

The old bridge was a motor-vehicle-only place, no sidewalks and no bicycles allowed. Knowing that the bridge was closed I thought I'd risk a visit on foot. I was able to walk on the now closed bridge, sharing the space with two construction vehicles carrying two workers. It was interesting to see the work in progress.

pieces of the new Sarah Mildred Long Bridge

Sarah Mildred Long Bridge new and old

More photos can be seen in the gallery new Sarah Mildred Long Bridge.

This bridge carries both a road and railroad tracks, with the tracks below the road surface. I've found it interesting that the pictures I've seen of the proposed structure show the road connected along the lift section but show the railroad tracks open. After wandering a bit on the project's web site I found this listed under key attributes:

With a larger 56’ vertical clearance in its “resting” position, there will be 68% fewer bridge openings. In the normal operating, “resting” position, the bridge’s lift span is at its middle level, allowing motor vehicles to cross the river. The new bridge’s movable “hybrid” span lifts up to allow passage of tall vessels and lowers to railroad track level for trains to cross.

That's very interesting, isn't it?