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Updated: Lightning closes Sarah Long Bridge
The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in Portsmouth reopened to one-way vehicular traffic Monday afternoon after a lightning strike closed the bridge that connects Portsmouth with Kittery, Maine.
Both traffic lanes were to be opened later Monday night and lift operations that allow large ships to pass on the Piscataqua River below should resume Tuesday, state Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton said Monday night.
Crews determined lighting that struck the bridge about 11:35 a.m. caused no significant damage to the lift.
The bridge's lift was raised several feet when the lightning struck.
The strike disabled the bridge's electronics and motors, forcing it to shut down to both vehicles and large ships, Boynton said. Workers were able to lower the lift, which was slightly raised during the lightning strike. The plate, however, was damaged in the process.
Alternating one-way vehicular traffic resumed early in the afternoon on the Rt. 1 Bypass that carries traffic across the bridge, Boynton said.
Repairs should be complete Monday night so two-way traffic can resume.
Crews determined tonight that electronics sustained no serious damage. They expect lift operations to resume Tuesday morning, Boynton said.
The bridge was built in 1940. While jointly owned by Maine and New Hampshire, New Hampshire controls bridge operations, Boynton said.
"It's the top red-listed bridge in the state now.. It has a fair amount of issues. We are in discussion with the state of Maine about how to fund its replacement," he said.
"We feel we need a full replacement. Part of that reason is we want a wider opening for the new generation of ships as we move forward in the decades to come," Boynton said.
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