Tuesday, December 23

Bridging Past and Future

I don't know if it's "going around" or if it's just me, but I got whatever was going around. It hit me Thursday night and totally incapacitated me until Monday morning. I think somewhere in there my heat went out as well, but I was so delirious from fever and Robitussin that I can't be sure. When I emerged from my deathly slumber, I found that apparently three feet of snow had been dumped on New England. I'd been completely unaware While everyone else was digging their cars out and such, I'd totally missed it. I'm not particularly keen on shoveling snow so I guess I'll add that to the list of reasons not to own a car.

Anyway, I trudged in to town and picked up the only reputable paper in Portsmouth--The Wire. The Wire's cover story this week is about the state of the Memorial Bridge. The Memorial Bridge is a major point of interest for local businesses, but also for cyclists, as it's the only way to get from Portsmouth to Kittery, Maine on a bicycle without adding like 20 miles to your route. The Seacoast Century's route goes over it. I've had adventures biking over the Memorial Bridge. Even Seacoast Area Bike Routes has made it one of their "projects" which I suppose entails mentioning it as something to look at doing once every three years or so.

Anyway, The Wire reports that the Memorial Bridge is at the top of the state's "red list" of bridges that have a 5% or higher chance of collapsing when you cross it. The article outlines the three options on the table for the bridge: removal, replacement, or restoration. Obviously removal isn't a viable option, but that's Maine's preferred choice. Then there's replacement. Basically, both the Route 1 and route 1A Memorial Bridge will be removed and replaced with a single high-rise like the I-95 bridge. Then there's the restoration option. Unfortunately Maine won't fund restoration, so the burden of cost is entirely on New Hampshire and private sources.

For cyclists who enjoy cycling from Portsmouth to Maine, along Rt. 103 and beyond, I guess this is the story to watch. This isn't really news though, that bridge has been a sketchy rusty rickety centerpiece of Portsmouth culture for some time now. And even if they do knock it down and replace it with some bridge invented in cycling utopia, with a bike-only lane separated from traffic and no drawbridge and whatever other amenities you might ask for, I'll still miss the Old Bridge.

(full story)

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