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NH, Maine in civil suit vs. owner of tanker that damaged bridge

PORTSMOUTH - The Maine and New Hampshire Departments of Transportation have filed civil suit against the owner of a 473-foot tanker that allided with the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge on April 1 causing about $2.5 million in damage.

The suit was filed in United States District Court in Concord on April 4.

The states allege that the crew of the M/V Harbour Feature "negligently" tended the lines and failed to properly secure the vessel at its berth at the state pier, resulting in the parting of the tanker's mooring lines, allowing it to drift and allide with the bridge causing "extensive physical damage."

"The allision with the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge was the proximate result of the M/V Harbour Feature's failure to exercise due care," the suit claims.

The bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic since the accident and is not expected to open until around May 25.

The Portuguese-flagged tanker M/V Harbour Feature is owned and operated by Tb Marine Shipmanagement of Hamburg, Germany.

The complaint initially asked that the ship be placed under "arrest," but a motion filed a day later asking for issuance of an arrest warrant to be stayed in light of a substitute special bond was granted.

The plaintiffs and the vessel owner agree to a $2.47 million bond, the estimated amount of the bridge damage, in place of the vessel's arrest.

The vessel has since left Portsmouth Harbor after passing a safety inspection.

Currently, the I-95 high rise bridge is the only functioning bridge connecting Maine and New Hampshire through Portsmouth. The new Memorial Bridge connecting Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine, via Route 1 is under construction and expected to be open in July.

Replacement of the Sarah Mildred Long bridge is expected to begin in 2014, if funding is in place.

A design workshop regarding the Sarah Long bridge replacement is being held in Kittery on Friday, April 26.


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