5 Facts You Didn’t Know About The Piscataqua River Bridge
If you've ever driven south on the Maine Turnpike out of Maine, you've been on the Piscataqua River Bridge. The big green through arch bridge that connects Maine and New Hampshire allows 3 lanes of traffic going either north into Maine or south in to New Hampshire.
1. The bridge wasn't completed until 1971.
The Interstate Highway System actually used to end at the Portsmouth Traffic Circle in 1950. From there commuters would have to take the Sarah Long Bridge on route 1 to get to the Maine Turnpike however the two lane roadway didn't meet Interstate Highway standards and after 4 years of construction, the Piscataqua River Bridge was open to traffic.
2. Tragedy struck the bridge during construction.
On June 24th, 1970 two of the I-Beams supporting the staging area on the Kittery side broke killing 4 workers after a 75 foot fall, and sending another 7 to the hospital. The accident occurred at 7:20 a.m., State Police said. Workers at the scene said the 12 by 30-foot staging broke loose from its holdings, and one side of the platform dropped vertically.
Seven of the men fell instantly onto debris about 70 feet below, officials reported. The other five managed to hang on to beams and supports on the underside of the bridge.
One of the five, however, became tired and let go of his hanghold, and fell onto a pile of broken concrete and rubble. Witnesses said he was one of the men who was killed.
3. Several people have committed suicide by jumping off the bridge.
In the last 15 years more than 8 people have attempted or committed suicide by jumping from the bridge. A few years ago a 45 year old man from Mass jumped to his death over Labor Day weekend. A witness said she saw the man park his car, hop the railing, and jump into the waters below. Soon after, the Coast Guard searched the river after police found his car, still running, with the hazard lights flashing. The man's body was never found. The most recent attempt happened in May of this year, however the New Hampshire and Maine state police were able to stop the woman from jumping.
4. The bridge will get much needed renovations in 2018.
The bridge is 45 years old this year and is in need of some renovations. Both New Hampshire and Maine have split the $450.000 in engineering costs to bring the project to bid. The entire project's price tag will depend on state lines, with work on the Maine side being billed to that state and vice versa. The two states' DOT's estimate the project will cost between $7 million and $9 million.
5. Over 60,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day.
With the Piscataqua River Bridge being the main gateway in and out of Maine, it's estimated that roughly 60,900 vehicles crossing the bridge each day. That number rises sharply in the summer months for obvious reasons.