We need to pursue both a Short and a long term solution!
The long term solution could lead to the Memorial Bridge being closed for 5 years, unless a short term solution is also pursued. We need to convince Maine to pursue the Immediate Solution as well as the long term one.
Maine and New Hampshire have jointly funded a strategic study of transportation requirements for the Portsmouth Kittery area. This study will focus on the multi-modal transportation needs of the area looking at least 20 years into the future. The study will have six public meeting sessions to gather input from the community. This study will be complete in July 2010. We need this study to finish, and to represent the voices of the communities on both sides of the river. We need both states to come to an agreement.
Immediate Solution:New Hampshire has offered to provide funding for the immediate replacement of the Memorial Bridge. The process could take up to two years to complete. Maine has no funding for the project, but believes that they can fund the repair/replacement of the Sarah Mildred Long bridge. New Hampshire's offer is to fund Maine's portion of the investment in the Memorial Bridge, with Maine repaying that advance when the Sarah Mildred Long bridge repair is done in 5-7 years.
Maine has indicated a strong preference for the Bicycle Pedestrian bridge option, and has indicated that they will not accept other options. Why? Simple! If the bridge does not carry cars or trucks, MDOT does not pay for it. They have indicated that payment would then fall to the Town of Kittery and the City of Portsmouth. Simply put, there will be no bridge.
We need for Maine and New Hampshire to continue the Connections Study. The original cost of $2 million has ballooned to $4 million. But we are close to having the study completed, and we need to see it to the finish. The Study needs to reflect the view of the community as well. New Hampshire is clearly behind replacing the Memorial Bridge with a vehicular bridge. The community is speaking through the Steering Committee and the Stakeholders Committee. They are firmly behind the vehicular replacement option. The historical interests will get behind the replacement after an independent review of the engineering report. That leaves Maine.
Write to your representatives. Let them know how you feel, and what it means to the community. Do it now. Follow this link.