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Local Bank Honors the Memorial Bridge

final walk attended by many

There were no shortages of people on Sunday, January 8th as people joined in the last walk across the Memorial Bridge.  Here are a few of the videos posted to commemorate the final day.


Final Closure scheduled by January 16, 2012 -- Float out begins January 30

The contracts have been signed, and the designs are nearing completion.  Demolition of the old bridge will begin in the first two weeks of January 2012.  The demolition has been subcontracted to a Massachusetts based company.  Work will begin sometime between January 3rd and January 16th, when the bridge will be closed to all pedestrians.  At that point, only contractors will be allowed on the bridge or its approaches.

Prior to floating out the bridge sections, work will focus on disconnecting various components of the bridge from one another.  And at low tide on January 30th (weather permitting) a barge will be positioned beneath the lift span.  As the tide comes in, the barge will eventually bear the weight of the center span.  The cables holding it in place will be disconnected, and at low tide, the lift span will float down stream on its way to the old Quincy Ship Yards for disassembly, lead paint remediation, and eventually sale as scrap.

The same process will be repeated on January 31st and February1st for the north and south flanking spans.  This is the reverse of the process used to put the bridge in place almost 90 years ago.  Movies of that process can be found at this link.

Stay tuned for time lapse movies of the process.  Ben Herman has developed time lapse photography capabilities, and will be documenting the entire deconstruction and construction process.  We will be posting links to his movies as they are developed.

Lift off!  Closure on the Memorial Bridge

On October 1, 2011 Portsmouth and Kittery came together to draw closure on the beloved Memorial Bridge.  Prescott Park was filled with exhibitors and there was a fitting celebration for the closure.  

Prescott Park was filled with booths from local restaurants, painters of canvas and faces, and information about the upcoming projects for replacement of the Memorial Bridge and rehab of the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge.  At 4:30 PM, Governor John Lynch of New Hampshire talked about the importance of the Memorial Bridge, and how the campaign to replace it was finally successful.  Then Doug Bates, President of the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce introduced former Portsmouth Mayor Eileen Foley who ceremonially closed the bridge by tying the ribbon.  Mayor Foley, at age 5, had the honor of cutting the ribbon to open the bridge in 1923, so it was fitting and natural for her to have the honor to close the bridge almost 90 years later.

For the day, we were teased by Captain and Patty's ferry service from Badgers Island to Prescott Park.  Many people talk about having a similar service while the new Memorial Bridge is under construction.  It would be really nice.

At 7:30 PM fireworks were displayed at the foot of the bridge.  Many said it was the best fireworks display they have witnessed in Portsmouth. 

permanently closed to vehicles

On Wednesday, July 27, 2011 the New Hampshire Department of Transportation announced that the Memorial Bridge would be permanently closed to vehicular traffic.

This has been expected, and predicted.  We set the timer on the bridge two years ago, to expire on May 1, 2011.  The bridge actually lasted a few months longer than we expected.

The NH DOT has done an amazing job for the past two years to repair the various joints and gusset plates on the bridge, but the rot and rust has taken us to where we are today.  The bridge lasted 88 years, which is about what is expected.

Happily there are funded plans for the replacement of the bridge.  The bids will be submitted in September or October 2011, and a contractor selected by the end of the year.  The construction of the bridge will start visibly in the fall of 2012.


reopened to vehicular traffic

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The New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) announces repair work on the closed Memorial Bridge that carries US Route 1 over the Piscataqua River between Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine has been completed and the bridge is scheduled to be reopened to motor vehicle traffic at 12:00 pm today (12/18).

The Memorial Bridge was closed to motor vehicle traffic on December 9.

“Dedicated bridge maintenance personnel and dry weather have allowed the reopening of the Memorial Bridge to occur much quicker than anticipated,” says NHDOT Commissioner George Campbell.“These crews have worked long days to make sure the Memorial Bridge is safe to reopen.We are also pleased that businesses and residents on both sides of the Piscataqua River will once again have all three Portsmouth-Kittery bridges in full operation.”

The Memorial Bridge will be reopened at the previous three-ton weight limit.The sidewalk on the upstream side of the bridge will remain closed for a couple of days to complete non-structural work, while the sidewalk on the downstream side of the bridge will remain open.Lift operations will continue for marine traffic.

Two towns - one community connected by the bridge

It connects the commercial heart of two towns:

  • Kittery Businesses up to 50% of their traffic from across the bridge
  • Portsmouth Businesses get up to 25% of their business from across the bridge.
  • Portsmouth businesses are staffed by Kittery residents.

It provides the only pedestrian and bicycle link between the two towns:

  • 50% of residents use it regularly for pedestrian or bicycle transit
  • 89% of residents say it is critical for pedestrian transit
  • 80% say it is critical for bicycles
  • Bicycle and road races cross the bridge
  • The ME-NH link in the 2500 mile East Coast Greenway

It connects religious congregations
Arts organizations span the bridge

Bridge History

Impact of Losing the Memorial Bridge

Businesses lose revenue:

  • Kittery could lose 20%
  • Portsmouth could lose 15%
  • Staff drive rather than walk
  • Tax revenues would suffer
  • Sales tax
  • Income tax
  • Property tax

Community Life is Disrupted

  • Congregations split
  • Arts associations split
  • Road races rerouted
  • East Coast Greenway severed

Increased pollution

  • Drive instead of walk or bike
  • Ferry service?
  • Where would people park?

Bridge Condition Critical

6% Sufficiency Rating

Current estimates say the bridge will last between 2 and 5 years.  The center lift span can no longer be repaired, it must be replaced.  Rust and general decay will lead to closure.

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