$65.1 million Veterans Memorial Bridge in Portland, Maine opens

Bicyclists were among the first to christen the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Portland, Maine, on its opening day, June 28, 2012. Photo courtesy of Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez on June 28 participated in the opening of the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Portland, Maine — one of the State’s most heavily traveled bridges that connects the cities of Portland and South Portland over the Fore River.

“The Veterans Memorial Bridge project has created jobs for people in the area and will continue to boost the local economy by improving connectivity for all residents,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a written statement. “President Obama’s support for an America built to last is putting people back to work across the country building roads, bridges and other projects that will mean better, safer transportation and generate economic benefits well into the future.”

The Veterans Memorial Bridge, which carries more than 22,000 vehicles a day over the Fore River, is critical to Maine because it links two significant population centers that incorporate commercial and industrial districts and waterfronts, according to FHWA. Completed in 1954, the old bridge is experiencing structural deterioration which made its replacement a safety priority. The new bridge is located just north of the existing bridge and is designed for a 100-year life.

“The project put people to work and will continue to support economic growth into the future,” Mendez also said in the written statement. “It represents a long-term investment in transportation that will improve quality of life and promote livability for Portland area residents.”

The new 1,600-foot bridge features plazas at both ends and scenic overlooks. The bridge includes a twelve-foot wide dedicated path for walkers and bicyclists that is separated from vehicular lanes by a curb and metal barrier to ensure safety for all users.

The total cost of the new Veterans Memorial Bridge is $65.1 million, including $50.8 million in federal funding.

The project was completed ahead of schedule as the result of design-build, a contracting method which saves time and cost by allowing design and construction elements to be included in a single contract.