|For Immediate Release
July 27, 2011
Public Information Office
|Memorial Bridge Closed Permanently To Vehicle Traffic
US 1 Over Piscataqua River In Portsmouth, NH-Kittery, ME
New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) Commissioner George Campbell today announced that the Memorial Bridge, carrying US Route 1 over the Piscataqua River between Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine, is permanently closed to motor vehicle traffic effective immediately. The bridge will not reopen until a new replacement bridge is in place. The Memorial Bridge has already been closed to traffic since 9:00 am today (July 27) as part of a second day of scheduled mechanical inspections.
"The decision to close the Memorial Bridge to motor vehicle traffic is being made to ensure the public's safety. As commissioner, safety has to be my primary concern, and this decision has been made based upon input from our top bridge engineers and in consultation with the Maine Department of Transportation," Commissioner Campbell said in announcing the decision to close the bridge.
"The most recent inspections of the Memorial Bridge have revealed accelerated deterioration, which has convinced me it can no longer accommodate vehicular traffic. Deterioration of the truss joints is particularly problematic, but the entire bridge has reached a point of deterioration that makes its permanent closure unavoidable. We had hoped to keep it open for several more months, but it has become clear that the 88-year old bridge has reached the end of its serviceable life for motor vehicles."
Alternative routes for vehicles crossing between New Hampshire and Maine include the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge (Route 1 Bypass) and the I-95 high level bridge.
Planning and progress continue towards the full replacement of the Memorial Bridge. The $90 million "design-build" project is expected to get underway in the spring of 2012, with a final completion date of June 2014.
"Governor Lynch and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation made the replacement of the Memorial Bridge a priority, we are moving forward with putting a new bridge in place as soon as possible," Commissioner Campbell said. "Working together with the Governor's offices of both states, our Congressional delegations and our transportation counterparts in Maine, we were able to secure the necessary funding to replace the Memorial Bridge and ensure three bridges will continue to link our two states."
The Memorial Bridge will remain open to pedestrian and bicycle traffic for the time being, and lift operations will continue for commercial river traffic. Interim repairs of the bridge will continue to allow the limited operations. Ongoing review and evaluations will include consideration of the removal of the lift span in advance of the start of the bridge replacement project.