The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, one of three bridges connecting Maine and New Hampshire, was named after a long-time employee of the NH Department of Transportation. But the bridge, badly deteriorating, has been weight posted, and is near the end of its safe, useful life.
The Federal Transportation Department has called the span structurally deficient, and that certain structural failures could result in a complete collapse. So, members of the New Hampshire and Maine Congressional Delegations successfully lobbied the Feds for a $25 million dollar grant, awarded mainly because of an existing rail line across the current bridge that allows the Portsmouth Navy Yard to transport nuclear waste across the Piscataqua River by train. The rest of the approximately $173 million dollar cost will be split between the two states, in a similar arrangement that resulted in a rebuilding of the nearby Memorial Bridge.
I attended a briefing by NH DOT officials who updated New Hampshire Senior U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen on the project. Here is a short video introduction featuring the Senator and NH DOT Commissioner Chris Clement. An audio podcast follows directly below.
You can listen to my audio podcast on the huge bridge public works project by clicking on the arrow below or the download link, depending on your device.
DOT officials say that the bridge construction design will allow for fewer openings for smaller boats, since the span height will be higher than the current bridge.
Right now, they say that the earliest the old bridge would be completely closed to vehicle traffic is 2016. They also say there will be no bicycle lane planned for the bridge. Bicycles are currently permitted on the Memorial Bridge only.