October 15, 2010

Kittery bridge project to get $20M in federal funds

By Kelley Bouchard kbouchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Maine and New Hampshire will receive a $20 million TIGER II federal grant to help replace the 87-year-old Memorial Bridge between Kittery and Portsmouth, N.H., Maine's congressional delegation announced today.

The Memorial Bridge links the downtowns of Kittery and Portsmouth and offers the only bicycle and pedestrian access across the river. Two months ago a rusted portion of the bridge fell into the river.

The TIGER II grant program is extremely competitive and only about 3 percent of the requests are actually awarded. The U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to officially announce the grant next Wednesday.

Maine Gov. John Baldacci and New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch signed executive orders last week to create a task force to seek as much as $300 million to replace the Memorial Bridge and fix other bridges that cross the Piscataqua River.

The money also would be used to upgrade the nearby Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, which carries traffic on the Route 1 bypass. Built in 1940, it includes a rail line that serves the 4,200-employee Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, and carries heavy truck traffic.

The money also would be used to maintain the much newer Piscataqua Bridge, which has been carrying Interstate 95 traffic since 1972.

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