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Crews continue to piece together the first third of the new Memorial Bridge at the New Hampshire State Pier in Portsmouth on Monday. (John Quinn/Union Leader)

Portsmouth Memorial Bridge construction on schedule to finish July 6

PORTSMOUTH - By the end of the year, the first third of the new Memorial Bridge is expected to float down via barge before it's installed on the New Hampshire side of the Piscataqua River.

Earlier this year, demolition began on the old bridge - which was built in 1922 - allowing work to begin on the $88.8 million bi-state project to restore the connection between downtown Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine on U.S. Route 1.

Despite a short precautionary delay, during Superstorm Sandy in October, the project is on schedule to be completed by July 6, according to Steve DelGrosso, senior project manager with Archer Western Contractors.

"The bridge consists of three 300-foot spans," DelGrosso said, adding the first section of the bridge is being assembled on a barge at the New Hampshire State Pier, which is just below the Sarah Long Bridge.

DelGrosso said the design makes it easier to assemble, as the rounded corners on the trusses require less bolts without losing strength or stability.

While crews are already working six days a week - at 10 to 12 hours a day - DelGrosso said they may need to use double shifts to ensure they meet their timeline. Depending on the weather, DelGrosso said the 600-ton superstructure of the Scott Avenue Bridge, which is owned by the City of Portsmouth, should be ready to take an hour-long trip downstream to be put into place between Christmas and New Year's.

DelGrosso said the assembly site at the pier is ideally suited for the project.

"This is a great piece of property," DelGrosso said, adding the area allows crews to access the river while cranes have a stable site on the pier.

DelGrosso said the pier can also be secured, which is an excellent precaution as the project has attracted a lot of attention from residents.

"We've seen some people on the railroad tracks taking pictures," DelGrosso said, adding others have kept watch from the neighboring Sarah Long Bridge.

After the first section is complete, DelGrosso said workers at the pier assembly can begin on the Kittery Approach Bridge, which is owned by Maine. He added that project is expected to be complete in March and the center section, which includes the lift span, should be ready by June.



jquinn@newstote.com



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