The new Memorial Bridge is open which connects Kittery and downtown Portsmouth via Route 1. I’ve said before that I was in favor of them not replacing the bridge but I knew that opinion wouldn’t be welcome. I’m not so against it that I won’t use it, however. I didn’t really feel that strongly about it one way or the other. I just wanted to express a dissenting opinion. (In contrast, I really am in favor of the government shutting down the local shipyard. I know that’s also not a popular opinion but mine is much stronger on that issue than with the bridge.)
The first thing that hit me when I went over the bridge was how wide it is. It feels like it’s twice the width of the old bridge. It probably isn’t but certainly has that feel to it. They finally included a bike lane and the sidewalk is wide enough so people can pass each other comfortably. In addition the sidewalk juts out at four points on the bridge to act as sort of observation decks. The view isn’t any better there but I suppose it does allow for people to step aside for the view while others can walk past.
There’s no grating in the middle like the earlier bridge so I’ve had no issues taking my motorcycle across. Because of its narrow type of tires it would swerve too much on the old bridge. Now I’m able to go across smoothly and quickly, depending on traffic.
So, I have no complaints about this bridge in its design and construction. It is convenient as well. But now we have to deal with having two drawbridges which can be a real pain. In tourist season the high-level bridge is packed on the weekends, forcing locals to take the other two. Rumor has it that the Route 1 Bypass bridge (the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge) is also due to be torn down and replaced. That one doesn’t effect me much personally but we’ll have to see how that affects tourist traffic. Would we have to force long lines going through downtown Portsmouth or deal with even longer hold-ups on Route 95?
One more note about the Memorial Bridge: I can’t say that from personal experience that I noticed a difference in the local economy while we were without the new bridge. I don’t own a business nor have I been contact with any local business owners. But they all seem to have done well enough in the short period of time it took for the bridge to get replaced. People around here really do get worked up over nothing, it seems. Instead of worrying about how a bridge or new parking garage might affect your business, why not try to improve your business so those things won’t affect it?