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 when the motors malfunctioned.
“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 New Hampshire Department of Transportation will not accept the keys to the bridge until all testing is complete. Carol Morris, spokesman for Archer Western Contractors, said it is too soon to say how the problem will affect the opening schedule.
She said the out-of-state vendor that provided the safety rail system will be on site today to troubleshoot the problem. She said all parties involved will be working “non-stop” to determine the next steps and provide information on timing.
Main bridge contractor Archer-Western 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.
The opening celebration for the bridge is still scheduled for Aug. 8.