January 29, 2018
As a key part of a major reconstruction project in the city of Portsmouth, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) closed the Stark Street Bridge to all vehicular and pedestrian traffic. This structure, dating back to the 1940s and crossing over the U.S. Route 1 Bypass (US 1 Byp), was shut down so that it could then be demolished and replaced with a new bridge. (US 1 Byp is a 4.3-mile [6.9-kilometer]-long bypass of U.S. Route 1 between Portsmouth and the town of Kittery, Maine; this route was opened in 1940 as a part of a New Deal public works effort and is one of the oldest signed bypasses in the United States.)
The contract for the project encompassing the demolition and replacement of the Stark Street Bridge had been approved early in December 2017 by the New Hampshire governor’s Executive Council. NHDOT Commissioner Victoria Sheehan, who also now serves as vice president of AASHTO, recommended that the project be awarded to Concord-based contractor E.D. Swett. The financing for the project would consist of 80 percent federal funding and a 20 percent match in money from New Hampshire. Toll credit from the New Hampshire Turnpike System was used for the Granite State’s portion of funding, a financing source that Sheehan described as “effectively using 100 percent federal funds.”
Exactly nine months after the closing of the original Stark Street Bridge, its replacement was formally opened to traffic. This Monday morning debut of the new Stark Street Bridge took place on the same day that NHDOT closed the Woodbury Avenue Bridge, likewise crossing over the section of US 1 Byp in Portsmouth so that it could also be torn down and replaced as another major part of the project.
The original Woodbury Avenue Bridge had long been officially known as the George P. Laderbush Memorial Bridge in memory of a Portsmouth native who lost his life while serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and the new version of this structure retains that name. The new bridge was opened on Veterans Day in 2019. Other work done through this multi-faceted NHDOT project included rebuilding segments of US 1 Byp and replacing various signs along that route.
For more information on the replacement of the Stark Street Bridge in Portsmouth, please check out https://www.nh.gov/dot/media/nr2018/20181024-portsmouth-bridges.htm and https://apnews.com/cac17897e3f3422083a359b461f8bfae