Sarah Long Bridge Breaks In Frigid Temperatures

Jan 23, 2013

Credit Muffet / Flickr Creative Commons

1/24/13 AP Update: 

Work has started to fix a lift bridge between New Hampshire and Maine that had gotten stuck and caused traffic problems along the seacoast.

The work could take up to two days. Conditions weren't optimal: Workers started at 7 a.m. Thursday in subzero weather. By noon, it got up to 12 degrees in Portsmouth.

Department spokesman Bill Boynton said authorities were performing a routine test on Sarah Long Bridge on Wednesday when it failed to close all the way, becoming stuck about a foot over the roadbed.

Officials don't know for sure whether the cold weather contributed to the problem.

The bridge carries the Route 1 Bypass over the Piscataqua River between Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine


One of the two remaining bridges connecting Kittery, Maine to Portsmouth, New Hampshire is stuck. The bridge’s lift mechanism broke down with the bridge about a foot above the roadway. All traffic trying to cross from Maine to New Hampshire must now be rerouted across the I-95 bridge, since both the Memorial and Sarah long bridges are out of service.

DOT Spokesman Bill Boynton says the Sarah Long Bridge was being lifted in order to quote “give it some exercise” in the cold weather, when it came out of skew. "It really has to be perfectly level in order to get back into place on the road-bed," Boynton says, "Getting out of skew is not unusual, what is unusual is that there is some damage associated with this particular problem."

Boynton says it’s not clear why the damage occurred, or how long before the bridge is operational again. But the bridge is slated to be replaced.

"It’s our number one red-listed bridge right now. It dates back to the early 1940s. It’s a lift bridge which gives it more moving parts." He says Maine and New Hampshire are working on finding the funds to fix the bridge, but haven't come up with them yet.

For NHPR news, I’m Sam EB