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Concord City Council votes to tear down, replace Sewalls Falls Bridge

Cousins Tyler Harriman, 21, far right, of Canterbury, and Dominic Denico, 10, on left, from Vassalboro, Maine, fish on the Merrimack river below the Sewalls Falls Bridg on Wednesday, June 18, 2012. 

(Amanda Steen/ Monitor Staff)

Cousins Tyler Harriman, 21, far right, of Canterbury, and Dominic Denico, 10, on left, from Vassalboro, Maine, fish on the Merrimack river below the Sewalls Falls Bridg on Wednesday, June 18, 2012. (Amanda Steen/ Monitor Staff)

After serving as a path across the Merrimack River for nearly 100 years, the Sewalls Falls Bridge will be coming down. The Concord City Council voted unanimously last night to tear down and replace the aging steel bridge in East Concord.

“I think the time has come to now move along,” said at-large Councilor Steve Shurtleff, who has long advocated to preserve the bridge.

“It’s unfair to the people in the area that use that bridge. We need a new bridge. It’s a safety hazard.”

But the bridge could be here to stay for at least a few more years; the state Department of Transportation’s current capital plan includes nearly $15.2 million for the project in 2014 and 2015.

The city council voted in 2006 to rehabilitate the bridge and build a new, one-lane bridge alongside it. But last August, after a new study revealed the bridge was in worse condition than expected, the council voted to again review about a dozen options.

Last night, City Engineer Ed Roberge asked the council to decide between two options: remove and replace the bridge or continue with the 2006 plan.

Rehabilitating the bridge and building a new one would have cost more than previously expected, Roberge said, and maintaining the existing bridge would have long-term costs.

Ward 3 Councilor Jan McClure said she supported replacing the bridge, but had heard from residents who feared a new bridge would “create a superhighway into what is a residential neighborhood right now.”

The bridge replacement will require closing the bridge during construction.

Door-to-door sales

Door-to-door solicitors now must wear identification badges when making sales calls in Concord.

The city council last night voted to change its ordinance for door-to-door sales, requiring monthly registration and limiting sales to between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. The city can require a fee to cover costs for the city-issued identification badges, according to the ordinance.

In November, the council had referred the issue to further study after the city’s attorneys recommended changing the ordinance to require monthly registration instead of weekly registration for door-to-door salesmen. That change had come in response to a letter from Utah-based Pinnacle Security, threatening legal action against the city for its time restrictions and registration requirements.

Future streets

The City Council last night approved a number of future street maps, outlining where streets could be constructed if development occurs.

The streets would be added years from now – if at all – but the measure prevents construction within their path.

The potential plans include extending Old Suncook Road south from Manchester Street to Garvins Falls Road and extending Whitney Road to Sewalls Falls Road in East Concord. (The Whitney Road extension would pass through property in East Concord owned by the Monitor.)

The council tabled the proposed extention of Storrs Street from Theatre Street south to Langdon Avenue after a property owner in the area expressed concern.

Arnold Cohen said his property on Gas Street would be eliminated by the extension of Storrs Street; the planned street passes through the existing building on the site.

“But I won’t have any rights to rebuild or do anything with it, and I don’t think that that’s fair, I really don’t,” he said.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

Legacy Comments6

Concord and New Hampshire makes the March 4, 2013 Bridgehunter Chronicles blog. See: "The process of decimating New Hampshire’s historic bridges continues as another bridge is slated for demolition, with no chance to protest the decision. The city of Concord voted on Thursday to proceed with the demolition process as inspection reports revealed that the bridge deteriorated to a point where a complete rehabilitation of the structure would be futile. The original plan had been to construct a new bridge alongside the two-span through truss bridge with riveted connections that was built by a prominent bridge builder, John Storrs, who was influential in the city of Concord, and later became mayor of the state capital. While residents are hesitant regarding the potential to convert the residential street into a major highway, city officials believe that a new bridge is a necessity due to safety and liability concerns. The bridge will remain in its place for another year or so as funding is being collected for the project, meaning it will be in service for people to see until 2015, when the entire city landmark becomes a pile of scrap metal. More on the city’s decision can be found here."

Long past time to demolish all of the dwindling number of New Hampshire's remaining historic bridges. Perhaps even do it in one fell swoop via a comprehensive state program paid for by a limited increase gas tax, to be stopped once the last old span is pulled down. Best not to burden future generations with the cost of heritage and culture. We are a forward looking people given to practical matters. Let visitors go elsewhere for seeing heritage, high tax states like Vermont and Massachusetts. We still trump them with cheap booze, cigs, and coming soon, casinos. ---SWL

Thank God nobody suggested to them that an aerial roundabout over the river would work perfectly there.

""feared a new bridge would “create a superhighway into what is a residential neighborhood right now.” "" - glad to hear the locals admitting it is just that, a local neighborhood road. There is a bridge a ~~ mile north and the road connects a couple miles south with Concord. A total waste of money for a few locals to literately save a couple minutes driving time. There are bridges that need fixing that would help more people and save much more driving time than this bridge. Just put up the closed sign before it is too late.


Don not hold your breath. I wonder how much of our tax dollars will be used in the next 2 or 3 years to maintain this bridge. We should shut it down now. There are alternate routes around this bridge.

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