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294 1866 1/9/2018

Cianbro Launches Sarah Mildred Long Lift Span Float-in Operation

Oct 18 2017

The operation to float-in the lift span for the new Sarah Mildred Long Bridge has taken place in the Piscataqua River between Kittery, Maine and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The three-million-pound center lift span was floated in on barges across the Piscataqua River on Tuesday after the navigational channel was closed to all other vessels – from kayaks to tankers – within a 300-yard radius of the bridge.  

Wednesday, the rising tide lifted the span to clear the bearings, and Cianbro crews floated the structure into place over the bearings by noontime. The outgoing tide then lowered the lift span onto the bearings. Once the structure was resting on the bearings, the barge was ready to be pushed back to the State Pier. Adequate clearance to remove the barge from under the lift span occurred late in the afternoon.

“This is not the first time that our company has done this type of complex float-in operation,” said Cianbro CEO Pete Vigue, who was on hand at the SML jobsite. “We’re a leader in the industry to do these type of float-ins … not just in New England but in the United States as well. These operations are extremely sophisticated, requiring a tremendous amount of attention to the design of the process as well as the execution. And I couldn’t be happier, couldn’t be more proud of every single member of the team on the Sarah Mildred Long bridge project for what they have done throughout the project – especially when considering that some in the industry have considered the task next to impossible.”

Once complete and placed in-service, the new lift span will weigh approximately two thousand tons. The new bridge alignment will improve marine navigation by increasing the navigational clearance allowing larger ships to access the port and shipyard. With a larger 56-foot vertical clearance in its resting position, there is expected to be significantly fewer bridge openings.

The 300-foot long streamlined structural steel box girder lift span will be supported by four 200-foot tall precast concrete towers. There are eight operating ropes (steel cables) that pull the counterweights up and down to lift and lower the bridge. If laid end to end, these operating ropes would stretch over a mile, and the 40 counterweight ropes that support the four corners of the new lift span would extend for more than two miles. 
The SML replacement project is a joint venture between the Maine and New Hampshire Departments of Transportation, with MaineDOT serving as the lead.

Cianbro is the construction firm for the project. The design process began in 2013 and construction started in January of 2015. The new bridge was designed by a joint venture between specialty bridge design firms FIGG I Hardesty & Hanover. 

 The new Sarah Mildred Long Bridge is expected to open to traffic in November. The project is expected to cost approximately $160 million and is scheduled to be completed by June 1st, 2018.

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