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Workers Begin Repairs On Stuck NH-Maine Lift Bridge

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (CBS) - The Sarah Long Bridge connecting New Hampshire to Maine is shut down forcing some 16,000 vehicles a day to be rerouted.

And with the Memorial Bridge currently being replaced, it has just added to the traffic issues.

"People really underestimated the impact of the first bridge going down," said Jill D'Angelo, who uses the Long Bridge daily. "This is huge."

During routine testing, the Long Bridge was raised but when it came back down it got stuck and moved off its tracks.

"We're trying to figure out why the bridge went out of skew," said Steve Johnson from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.

New Hampshire DOT officials think both the frigid temperatures and mechanical issues may have played a role.

"The bridge is old, the bridge is in desperate need of replacement," said Johnson.

With both the Memorial and Long Bridges closed, the only way from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Kittery, Maine over the Piscataqua River is via the I-95 high-level bridge.

Crews started early this morning and in the bitter cold.

"It's not an easy job even in good weather because you're working in a tight space," said Johsnon. "The weather doesn't make it any easier down there, especially in the wind."

For now no maritime traffic can get through, preventing shipment of everything from scrap metal to oil.

The fixes may not be made until the weekend.

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