Little Bay Bridge

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Little Bay Bridge
Little Bay Bridges 02.jpg
The Capt. John F. Rowe Bridge, older of the two Little Bay Bridges
Coordinates43°07′05″N 70°49′32″W / 43.1181°N 70.82559°W / 43.1181; -70.82559Coordinates: 43°07′05″N 70°49′32″W / 43.1181°N 70.82559°W / 43.1181; -70.82559
Carries US 4 / NH 16 / Spaulding Turnpike
CrossesPiscataqua River
LocaleDover and Newington, New Hampshire
Official nameCapt. John F. Rowe Bridge
Ruth L. Griffin Bridge
Maintained byNew Hampshire Department of Transportation
ID number006502010002500 (Rowe SB)
006502010002400 (Rowe NB)[1]
Characteristics
Total length486.2 m (1,595 ft)
Width8.5 m (27.9 ft) (each span)
Clearance above6.93 m (22.7 ft)
Clearance below14 m (45.9 ft)
History
Opened1966 (Rowe SB)
1984 (Rowe NB)
2013 (Griffin)
Statistics
Daily traffic50380 (1992)

The Little Bay Bridge, or Little Bay Bridges, are a pair of four-lane girder bridges that carry a concurrency of U.S. Route 4, NH Route 16, and the Spaulding Turnpike across the mouth of Little Bay where it meets the Piscataqua River, between the city of Dover and the town of Newington in New Hampshire. As of December 2018, only four lanes of the bridges' total of eight traffic lanes are in use.

Capt. John F. Rowe Bridge[edit]

The first Little Bay Bridge, which consists of a pair of two-lane spans, is officially the Capt. John F. Rowe Bridge.[2] Its first span was opened in 1966 and originally carried northbound traffic, with southbound traffic utilizing the parallel General Sullivan Bridge, which had been completed in 1934.[3]

The second span of the Rowe bridge was opened in 1984. At that time, the General Sullivan Bridge was permanently closed to vehicle traffic, southbound traffic was moved to the 1966 span of the Rowe bridge, and the 1984 span of the Rowe bridge was used for northbound traffic.

A second Little Bay Bridge was completed in 2013, with traffic shifted to it so the Rowe bridge could be closed for renovations. Renovations were completed in November 2015, although the Rowe bridge remained closed for several years due to significant realignment work on the nearby U.S. Route 4 interchange.[2] Northbound traffic returned to the Rowe bridge in December 2018.[4] The current two lanes of northbound traffic will eventually be expanded to use all four lanes of the Rowe bridge.[4]

View looking south from Dover Point. From left; the 1984 and 1966 spans of the Capt. John F. Rowe Bridge, and the General Sullivan Bridge. Photo taken in 2006, prior to construction of the Ruth L. Griffin Bridge between the bridges shown.

Ruth L. Griffin Bridge[edit]

The second Little Bay Bridge, with a capacity of four traffic lanes, is officially the Ruth L. Griffin Bridge,[5] named for a 20-year member of the Executive Council of New Hampshire.[6] It was built to help ease traffic congestion across the Rowe bridge, and was completed in November 2013.[2] It is physically located between the Rowe bridge and the General Sullivan Bridge.

Once the Griffin bridge was completed, all traffic from the Rowe bridge was moved to it, so the Rowe bridge could be closed for renovations. The Griffin bridge continued to handle all traffic for several years due to realignment of the nearby U.S. Route 4 interchange.[2] Northbound traffic returned to the Rowe bridge in December 2018.[4] The current two lanes of southbound traffic will eventually be expanded to use all four lanes of the Griffin bridge.[4]

General Sullivan Bridge[edit]

The General Sullivan Bridge is a deck truss bridge, with a through truss span to accommodate ship traffic, that formerly carried the roads that now travel over the Little Bay Bridges. The bridge was named for John Sullivan, a Revolutionary War general, Governor of New Hampshire, and delegate to the Continental Congress, who was from nearby Somersworth. Little Bay had previously been spanned by a railroad and automobile bridge, which had been completed in December 1873 and began carrying rail traffic in February 1874;[7] after 60 years of service, it was dismantled in February 1935.[8] Its abutments were located approximately 100 yards (91 m) north of the General Sullivan Bridge.[7] Near the Newington-side abutment, the 1873-constructed Newington Railroad Depot still stands.

The General Sullivan Bridge was completed in 1934,[3] and dedicated on September 5 that year.[9] Constructed at a cost of $1 million, it was a toll bridge for its first 15 years of use, with the tolls being abolished on November 1, 1949.[10] The bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic since the opening of the second span of the Rowe bridge in 1984.

After being closed to vehicular traffic, the General Sullivan Bridge has been used by pedestrians and cyclists, as the Little Bay Bridges do not have facilities for foot traffic. The bridge has long been a popular fishing spot.[11][12] In 2010 and 2015, fencing was installed to limit access to specific areas of the bridge, due to deteriorating conditions.[3] In September 2018, the bridge was closed to pedestrians and cyclists, due to unsafe conditions.[13]

In popular culture[edit]

The General Sullivan Bridge, although it was not named, appeared in a 1997 episode of WWF Monday Night Raw, when Steve Austin threw the WWF Intercontinental Title (then belonging to The Rock) into the river below.[14]

Future plans[edit]

Despite being considered by some to be the second most historic bridge in New Hampshire (after Portsmouth's Memorial Bridge), the future of the General Sullivan Bridge is uncertain. The Coast Guard regards it as a navigation hazard and favors its removal.[15] Bridge proponents cite its eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.[15] As of July 2018, restored pedestrian and bicycle access to the bridge is planned for the summer of 2022.[2]

Photographs[edit]

Capt. John F. Rowe Bridge[edit]

General Sullivan Bridge[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nationalbridges.com. "National Bridge Inventory Bridges - 006502010002400". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2006-09-29.
  2. ^ a b c d e Briand, Paul (July 16, 2018). "Spaulding Turnpike project: Little Bay bridge to see traffic in fall". Foster's Daily Democrat. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "About the General Sullivan Bridge". NHDOT. Retrieved July 17, 2018 – via newington-dover.com.
  4. ^ a b c d Briand, Paul (December 10, 2018). "Big change coming to Spaulding Turnpike's exit 6". Foster's Daily Democrat. Dover, New Hampshire. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  5. ^ McMenemy, Jeff (June 28, 2018). "Sununu signs bill naming bridge for Ruth Griffin". seacoastonline.com. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  6. ^ "Bridge named in honor of longtime executive councilor". The Republic. Columbus, Indiana. June 28, 2018. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Great Bay First Spanned by Private Bridge Owner". The Portsmouth Herald. October 31, 1949. p. 3. Retrieved July 18, 2018 – via newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Tearing Down Old Bridge at Dover Point". The Portsmouth Herald. February 4, 1935. p. 8. Retrieved July 19, 2018 – via newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Dedicate New Bridge Today". The Portsmouth Herald. September 5, 1934. p. 1. Retrieved July 18, 2018 – via newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "General Sullivan Bridge Free Tomorrow". The Portsmouth Herald. October 31, 1949. p. 1. Retrieved July 18, 2018 – via newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "Here and There". The Portsmouth Herald. July 30, 1940. p. 4. Retrieved July 19, 2018 – via newspapers.com.
  12. ^ Kennedy, Bob (July 11, 1944). "Sport City". The Portsmouth Herald. p. 6. Retrieved July 19, 2018 – via newspapers.com.
  13. ^ "Gen. Sullivan Bridge closed to pedestrians, cyclists". seacoastonline.com. September 28, 2018. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  14. ^ "Stone Cold Chucks the Intercontinental Belt over a bridge". Retrieved July 17, 2018 – via YouTube.
  15. ^ a b New Hampshire DOT. "New Hampshire Department of Transportation - Spaulding Turnpike : Newington-Dover - Commonly Asked Questions". Retrieved 2006-10-03.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]