Crews prepare to remove massive section of shuttered Sarah Long Bridge
PORTSMOUTH - Over the summer, when the center span of the Sarah Mildred Long Portsmouth bridge got stuck in the “up” position, officials decided to close the bridge rather than spend one million dollars to fix it. Now the Piscataqua River’s navigational channel is closed as workers prepare to remove that massive section of the bridge Friday morning.
Wednesday the center span was lowered as workers began preparing for it to be floated out on a barge
“It’s a very intricate process to prepare for this lift out,” said Ron Taylor, Senior Engineer for the project.
Friday morning, during low tide around 4:00 a.m., tug boats will push a barge underneath the bridge’s center span. The incoming tide will lift the barge until it connects with the bridge. Then workers will disconnect the lift span, thereby allowing the 2 million pound center span to float away on the barge.
Simultaneously, work is progressing on the new bridge which connects Portsmouth and Kittery along the Route 1 bypass. Its center span lift will be the only one of its kind in North America because it will go down for rail traffic and up for boats.
The new bridge will allow larger ships to go through.
“The existing lift span is 250 feet long and the new one will be 300 feet. Sept of 2017 it should be opened to traffic,” said Taylor.
The joint project, between the states of Maine and New Hampshire is projected to cost 160 million dollars.