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Pete Vigue Discusses the Visit of Senator Collins and Secretary Foxx to the Sarah Long Bridge Project

Oct 18 2016

On October 3rd, 2016, Senator Susan Collins and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx visited the jobsite of the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge which spans the Piscataqua River between Kittery, Maine and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The project is unique and important, not only for the states of Maine and New Hampshire, but also for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The shipyard performs major repairs on nuclear powered submarines and is a strategic part of the Navy’s organization. The Sarah Long Bridge carries the rail connection between the shipyard and the rest of the nation, and it is important that the rail line is operational and is supporting the needs of the shipyard. 

As most people know, the old Sarah Mildred Long Bridge has been taken out of service due to its structural problems brought on by age.  And so, the need for the new bridge is very important at this time, not only to support the needs of the shipyard, but also to allow sea traffic to go up and down the river and to support the needs of multiple industries upstream of the bridge. This means that the significance of the bridge is important at a federal level, but also crucial to the Departments of Transportation here in Maine and in New Hampshire.   

On top of that, the delivery method of the project – CMGC – is a unique way to contract the development of a bridge which normally would take years to complete, from the time it is designed and bid, and then ultimately built. The CMGC concept is relatively new, and allows for this particular bridge to be built in 39 months, which is unheard of. It allows for a collaboration between the engineer, architect, contractor and the owner (i.e. the State of New Hampshire and the State of Maine). That interaction and collaboration among all the stake holders allows the schedule to be met, and also allows the project to be managed in such a way that the budget will be met as well.  

Secretary Foxx is well aware of the project and its importance to the nation, and he wanted to visit the jobsite along with Senator Collins, who was instrumental in supporting the funding of the project. That desire to visit the site became the October 3rd tour. 

I can communicate that both Senator Collins and Secretary Foxx were extremely impressed with the delivery method (CMGC), and the quality of the work, particularly in light of the very risky environment that presents challenges in terms of powerful currents on incoming and outgoing tides, currents which conceivably could impact progress and efficiency on the project. 

Both the Senator and the Secretary were very impressed with the project’s schedule. We should take this opportunity to recognize that the significant progress made in a very short time is a reflection of the collaborative effort between the Departments of Transportation, the Figg Group which has designed the bridge, and Cianbro. This has been a team effort, a complete collaboration, which has led to the ongoing satisfaction of the contract’s needs in a very short time period, and at a very reasonable price. 

Above all, the safety record on the project has been superb. As of the date of the Secretary’s and Senator’s visit, the project team had executed 284,000 work hours without a single recordable injury, and zero lost workdays.  This accomplishment is unheard of in a project that is so large and complex. I am very proud of the team and of what they have done to ensure the health and safety of our team members, of our subcontractors, and of all the other stakeholders on the project. When the safety record was communicated to Senator Collins and Secretary Foxx, the response was overwhelming. In the words of the Transportation Secretary, “That is unbelievable for a project of this size and significance. You people should be very proud of what you have accomplished.”

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