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Maine-New Hampshire bridge work to start in 2014

The Associated Press

5/31/2013

KITTERY, Maine  — Work to replace an aging bridge between New Hampshire and Maine that was hit by an oil tanker in April is expected to start in September 2014.

Officials say they plan to have the new Sarah Mildred Long Bridge ready in November 2017. The old bridge would be closed for six months, from May of that year to October.

The Maine Department of Transportation gave an update Thursday at an information session at the Kittery Community Center. Other plans include having the center span 60 feet off the water, which would reduce the number of times it has to be raised by nearly 70 percent; and including few piers so there's more of an open view underneath.

The department says the estimated cost of replacing the bridge between Kittery and Portsmouth, N.H., is about $160 million.

The 73-year-old bridge was shut down for a few days earlier this year after its center span got stuck during a routine test. It was shut down for several weeks after the tanker accident.

The Portsmouth Herald reports (http://bit.ly/11ccGSx) Linda Figg, president of bridge designer FIGG Engineering, said the design team is working "to achieve a bridge you will enjoy looking at and that will be incredibly functional for many years to come."

The bridge carries the Route 1 Bypass over the Piscataqua River. In 2010, the governors of New Hampshire and Maine recognized the need to upgrade the bridge. New Hampshire officials say it is the state's top red-listed bridge.

The bridge, as well as the Interstate 95 bridge over the Piscataqua, have been getting more traffic as workers build a replacement Memorial Bridge, the third one connecting Kittery and Portsmouth. The Memorial Bridge is expected to open in July.

Information from: Portsmouth Herald, http://www.seacoastonline.com