Piscataqua River Bridge

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Piscataqua River Bridge
Piscataqua River Bridge 01.jpg
The Piscataqua River Bridge seen from the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in Kittery, Maine
Coordinates 43°05′34″N 70°45′58″W / 43.092788°N 70.766158°W / 43.092788; -70.766158Coordinates: 43°05′34″N 70°45′58″W / 43.092788°N 70.766158°W / 43.092788; -70.766158
Carries I‑95
Crosses Piscataqua River
Locale Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine
Official name Piscataqua River Bridge
Maintained by New Hampshire Department of Transportation[1]
ID number 021702580012800[2]
Design Steel through arch bridge
Total length 1372.5 m (4,503 ft)
Width 29.9 m (98 ft)
Clearance above 7.1 m (23.3 ft)
Clearance below 41.1 m (134.8 ft)
Opened 1972
Daily traffic 60700 (1990)

The Piscataqua River Bridge is a through arch bridge that crosses the Piscataqua River, connecting Portsmouth, New Hampshire with Kittery, Maine. Carrying six lanes of Interstate 95, the bridge is the third modern span and first fixed crossing of the Piscataqua between Portsmouth and Kittery. The two other spans, the Memorial Bridge and the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, are both lift bridges, built to accommodate ship traffic along the Piscataqua. The high arch design of the Piscataqua River Bridge eliminates the need for a movable roadway.


Approaching the main span from New Hampshire
Underside of the bridge

As part of the Interstate Highway System, Interstate 95 was routed along the New Hampshire Turnpike, which had opened to traffic in 1950, and paralleled U.S. Route 1 through New Hampshire's seacoast from the Massachusetts border to the Turnpike's end at the Portsmouth Traffic Circle.[3] Between the traffic circle and the beginning of the Maine Turnpike, there was a gap in I-95 that was filled by the US-1 Bypass, crossing over the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge. Since the Long Bridge is a lift bridge with only a two lane roadway, it was far from meeting Interstate Highway standards.

The decision was made to extend I-95 north from the New Hampshire Turnpike at Portsmouth and south from the Maine Turnpike in Kittery, and join the roads with an uninterrupted high speed span over the Piscataqua. Work on the bridge was completed in 1971, and the I-95 extension to it in Maine was completed the following year.[4]

Tragedy struck the site about midway through construction. On June 24, 1970, two of the I-beams supporting the staging area on the Kittery side of the span gave way, sending four workers 75 feet down to their death and leaving another seven injured.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ NH General Court. "Section 228:40 Piscataqua River Bridge; Maintenance.". Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  2. ^ Nationalbridges.com. "National Bridge Inventory Bridges - 021702510010800". Retrieved 2006-09-29. 
  3. ^ bostonroads.com. "New Hampshire Turnpike (I-95)". Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  4. ^ MaineDOT. "Maine's Interstate turns 50!". Retrieved 2006-10-03.