Sarah Mildred Long Bridge delayed again, now won't open until spring
By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent
February 07. 2018 1:00PM
(KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)
This photo of the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge taken on Jan. 20 shows the amount of work that has already been completed by Cianbro.
PORTSMOUTH – The opening of the new Sarah Mildred Long Bridge connecting Portsmouth to Kittery, Maine, has been delayed again.
According to the Maine Department of Transportation, the bridge will now open to traffic this spring.
Officials have said there is no one thing causing delays, rather the $158.5 million span bridge is a complicated and sophisticated structure.
Maine DOT officials did point the finger at Cianbro, the Maine company contracted for the construction, in a post to its website earlier this week.
“Maine and New Hampshire Departments of Transportation share the public’s frustration with Cianbro’s schedule. We are exploring all options,” it read.
An updated schedule also was posted online with a projected opening date of May 10 for motor vehicle traffic and May 17 for rail traffic.
The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge was originally scheduled to open on Sept. 1, 2017. May 30 is now the targeted completion day.
Maine DOT spokesman Ted Talbot said Wednesday morning that he could not yet release anything more than what has been published online, but in January said safety and efficiency are top priorities for officials.
“We are committed to making sure the bridge operates as perfectly as it can. We’re not rushing the project in any manner,” he said Jan. 11.
The original Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, also known as the “middle bridge” connecting New Hampshire and Maine via U.S. Route 1 Bypass, was built in 1940. In August of 2016, the center span became stuck in the up position, and officials decided to close it months early; it was set to close in November of that year.
Approximately 14,000 vehicles crossed the old Sarah Mildred Long Bridge daily. Since it closed, drivers have relied on the Interstate 95 bridge and the Memorial Bridge.