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Maine, N.H. delegations invite transportation secretary to visit bridge

New Hampshire and Maine’s congressional delegations are inviting newly confirmed Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to visit a decaying bridge between the two states in need of replacement.

The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge connects Portsmouth to Kittery, Maine. Its rail component enables safe and efficient transportation of nuclear waste from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

The delegations said the 70-year-old bridge is in urgent need of replacement. Both states came together to submit a joint application for a $25 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant for the project.

The bridge has been closed multiple times in recent years due to malfunctions and unplanned major repairs. The most recent damage happened April 1 when an oil tanker struck the bridge after breaking away from a pier.

The goal is to have construction of a replacement bridge finished by 2017. The total cost is estimated to be about $160 million.

“The Federal Highway Administration has classified the bridge as structurally deficient, and noted its truss spans are fracture critical, meaning that the failure of steel tension members could result in collapse,” the letter said.

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