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July 29. 2013 12:22PM

Memorial Bridge opening delayed again

PORTSMOUTH — The opening of the new Memorial Bridge has been delayed once again.

New Hampshire Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton said the motor that controls two of the four traffic gates on the bridge failed during final testing.

Boynton said damage resulted as a result of the motors malfunctioning.

“Those are motors produced by another contractor, fully encased and put in place so representatives of that company will have to come see what is wrong,” Boynton said.

The expectation was that the bridge would open sometime this week, but Boynton said that is unlikely to happen.

“It is probably not going to happen this week,” Boynton said.

The N.H. Department of Transportation will not accept the keys to the bridge until all acceptance testing is complete.

The bridge contractor, Archer Western Contractors, set an aggressive schedule for the bridge-replacement project, with a closing date of July 19. Once that date passed, Archer Western entered the “disincentive phase” of the contract under which they incur a $25,000-a-day penalty for each day the project goes past schedule.

“It is all part of the contract. It is no different then when you buy a car from the dealer. We want to make sure it is all working the way it’s supposed to before the state of New Hampshire and DOT will accept the bridge,” Boynton said.

He said operator training, which includes classroom and hands-on learning, also has to be finalized.

“It is hard to get in there while some of this stuff is still going on. If you have construction people on there for 16 hours a day, when are you putting the operators on there to do their thing?” Boynton said.

Opening of the bridge will coincide with the announcement of its opening to try and prevent a traffic backup in Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine.

A celebration for the bridge is still scheduled for Aug. 8.


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