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Cianbro Prepares for Milestone Project to Replace Sarah Mildred Long Bridge

After two years of effort, Cianbro's estimating team is joining senior management and operations leaders in hailing a tentative price agreement which will see Cianbro construct a replacement for the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in Kittery, Maine beginning in late 2014. Nearly every business unit within Cianbro was involved in putting together the $158.5 million cost agreement for the Maine and New Hampshire Departments of Transportation. 

“I’m very proud of the team that we put together and the effort that was put forth,” said Cianbro's Estimating Manager Doug Dow. “This is the largest contract for bridge building in Maine that Cianbro has been awarded in the company’s history. And of course, it’s in our home state, which is awesome. It shines a great light on the company, and we get to showcase our capabilities. So we’re pretty excited about that.”   

"We are satisfied with this tentative agreement," said MaineDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt. "Through tough negotiations on behalf of the taxpayers, a fair price for the replacement of this bridge was reached and I am confident the residents of Maine and New Hampshire will be proud of the work to come."

In August of 2012, Governor Paul R. LePage and the Federal Highway Administration approved the innovative use of CM/GC (Construction Manager/General Contractor) Procurement Method that allowed MaineDOT to hire Cianbro to provide feedback during the design phase of the bridge prior to the start of construction. 

In November of 2012, Figg/Hardesty and Hanover signed a contract to design the new bridge as well as coordinate shareholder and public input meetings to see what local residents wanted reflected with the bridge design. The public input, consisting of the communities of Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine as well as the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Albacore Park, and neighborhood groups, was invaluable. A final theme was developed to define the context for creating the bridge shape and features, which was "Local Simplicity of the Working Waterway."

Public input also provided the following guidance:

Wider shoulders for bicyclists

Shape of the approach piers and lift towers

Open top to the lift towers as opposed to the "covered" towers that were presented

Color and texture preference for all bridge element exterior surfaces

Elements of the bridge considered for feature lighting

Keeping the new bridge name as Sarah Mildred Long

Features a wider opening for marine traffic


“I’m very proud of the Cianbro team and of the collaboration they put forth to help the Departments of Transportation to come up with an affordable design that will service the citizens of Maine and New Hampshire well into the future,” said Cianbro Corporation President Andi Vigue. “This milestone wouldn’t have been possible if not for the success that our team has had constructing high-quality, well-executed projects in the Northeast, which in turn, builds our reputation among the transportation departments. The success that Cianbro and the DOTs have had together over the years gave the Departments of Transportation in Maine and New Hampshire the confidence to trust us and to go forward with the Construction Manager / General Contractor process.”

Project Manager Kaven Philbrook said Cianbro’s team is already well-versed in the plan of action for the new bridge, thanks to the company’s role in designing the project. “Out of all the big bridge jobs Cianbro has completed over the years, I would say this project has a taste of all our other jobs combined,” he said. “It’s like the Penobscot Narrows Bridge in that it’s a big concrete segmental job high up in the air. The new Sarah Long is a concrete segmental bridge with a lot of heavy, heavy picks…80-100 ton picks…over 400 picks, I believe.”

Cianbro veteran Chet Muckenhirn will serve as Construction Manager on the project, said Philbrook. “Chet’s job down at the Q-Bridge in Connecticut had huge drilled shafts. And the Little Bay Bridge in New Hampshire had big drilled shafts. Well, the new Sarah Long has bigger and tougher drilled shafts. It’s a movable bridge, so all the lift spans that Chet has been involved with and bascule jobs that we’ve both been involved with, it has all of those same things involved. Usually a heavy movable bridge is mostly steel. This one has the concrete bridge part of it, it’s got the roadwork part, it’s got electrical / mechanical, and it’s got tough, deep foundations. It’s probably one of the more difficult jobs that we’ll see.”  

The new bridge was designed with long open spans using eleven fewer piers than the existing bridge. In addition, faster and fewer openings of the bridge due to its increased height for marine traffic means there is less disruption to the traveling public. There is a state of the art vessel collision system to reduce damage if ships strike the piers as well as a mechanical system driving the towers that reduces long term maintenance needs.

In early September, a $25 million TIGER Grant (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) was awarded to both states to fund the rail portion of the bridge that will serve as the key component to moving nuclear material out of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

The new bridge will take three years to build, and is expected to open to motorists in August of 2017.

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