49 Years Ago, the Piscataqua River Bridge Opened Changing the Way Drivers Entered and Left Maine
If you've ever traveled south on I-95 to cross into New Hampshire, you've driven over the Piscataqua River Bridge, a feat of engineering that was constructed 49 years this November. Before 1972, drivers had to use a completely different way to cross the river.
According to Wikipedia, up until the early 70s, The Maine Turnpike and The New Hampshire Turnpike did not meet as they do today, and drivers crossing the Piscataqua River from either direction used the Route 1 Bypass and took the original Sarah Long Bridge, but it wasn't up to the standards required for an Interstate Highway.
The solution was to extend I-95 to close that gap between each state's turnpike and build a new bridge that could handle heavier traffic and have a fixed span over the river so that traffic wouldn't be stopped to lift the bridge as ships passed beneath it.
Construction on the Piscataqua River Bridge began in 1968 which was an engineering feat with long approaches and high steel trusses that gave the bridge a length of 4500 feet and a height of 134 feet above the river.
The construction wasn't without tragedy though. On June 24, 1970, four workers fell 75 feet to their deaths and seven others were injured when two I-beams gave way. All the workers who lost their lives were in their 20s.
The bridge was opened on November 1, 1972, with a ceremony with the Governors of Maine and New Hampshire in attendance. It was something seldom seen on the Piscataqua Bridge. All lanes of the highway were packed with people.
As the bridge approaches its 50th anniversary, a major renovation has been underway since the spring of 2019 that will not only improve the structure of the bridge but also add an Intelligent Transportation System which would open up a fourth lane during peak traffic times.