By Jesse Scardina
KITTERY, Maine — Construction of the replacement for the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge is expected to begin in the first two weeks of December, as contracted company Cianbro starts under-water work on the $158.5 million bridge.
The Maine Department of Transportation formally announced Monday afternoon the agreement with the Pittsfield, Maine-based construction company to replace the 74-year-old bridge, which connects Portsmouth, N.H. and Kittery along the Route 1 Bypass. The current bridge prohibits vehicles greater than 20 tons from crossing as it is New Hampshire’s top red-listed bridge.
Throughout the construction process, Maine DOT will hold public information sessions roughly every six months, led by the designers of the bridge, Figg Engineering/Hardesty & Hanover.
The cost of the entire project exceeded $170 million, according to Maine DOT spokesman Ted Talbot, but the price of constructing the bridge just shy of $160 million. The cost of the project was split between Maine and New Hampshire, while a $25 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation helped fund the construction of the rail portion of the bridge, which carries out nuclear waste from the nearby Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Traffic to the bridge will be closed toward the last six to nine months of the project, as construction to connect the bridge on the Kittery side begins. The bridge is scheduled to be completed in September, 2017.