Thursday, January 17, 2013

Reasons Why Wednesday: A Front Row Seat for History in the Making!

An interesting part of living at Badger's Island Marina this winter is the fact that the bridge over the Piscataqua River that looms over the marina is gone. The Route 1 bridge, called the Memorial Bridge in honor of World War I was closed to all traffic Summer 2011. The Memorial Bridge was a lot more than a mode of transport over the river to most of us in Portsmouth. It was a symbol of our great seaside city, the city with 3 bridges. Our good friends even named their new yoga studio 3 Bridges Yoga. It was the backdrop of many a fantastic time at Harpoon Willy's and the Portsmouth Decks and summer concerts in Prescott Park. 
Sunset from Prescott Park 
A great grey afternoon at Willy's with the Bridge's center span going up behind us 

The old bridge floating out to sea (well, Quincy, MA where she was scrapped out)
On my birthday 2011, the city even held a "Farewell Party" for the bridge with a beer garden, commemorative t-shirts and an AMAZING fireworks display over the bridge. The whole city came out to send the bridge off in style. The following April she was floated out by barge and people lined the shoreline to see her float by. 
Something's missing in the heart of Portsmouth! You can see Badger's Island Marina on the left with the shrinkwrapped boat under the bridge. 
Fast forward to this fall and winter. We move into the Badger's Island Marina and have been lucky enough to witness the engineering miracle of building a new bridge in the 2nd fastest tidal current river in the world. Don't get me wrong, the pile driving at 2am did not make us feel 'lucky'. But to see the construction workers day in and day out through rain, sleet, snow, to see what one day was a wooden structure turn the next day into a concrete piling, is pretty neat. To know this structure will far outlive us and our kids and to know we lived there the one year it was gone and witnessed it being rebuilt is VERY cool. To walk down the middle of Route 1 because there's no traffic coming over the bridge and know that this time next year it will return to being a major American highway is a unique experience a once in a lifetime period of time to live where we are living. 

At 9am Tuesday this week was first major event of the bridge rebuilding - the float-in of the southern span. We'd watched the span being built up river and it was very cool to see it all come together and then yesterday morning it was floated down river to be placed on the new concrete pilings. They had 40 minutes and 1/4 of an inch in which to operate. Tugs from Moran, the US Navy and the Coast Guard were all deployed out in the river. Once again the whole city lined the shoreline in Prescott Park, and lucky us, we made fresh coffee, walked to the end of our dock and had a front row seat for history in the making! 
This is the bridge coming down river, that barge in the foreground is fixed in the river to assist in the building process

Here it is moving through the navigable channel that's still open for traffic - HUGE 200' tankers go through there, it's quite a sight! 

Being pushed into place by the tugs

A helicopter circled above helping the tugs site the barge carrying the bridge

A picture taken from the helicopter  courtesy of Archer Western Contractors

video


The new Portsmouth skyline 

 And just like that the skyline of Portsmouth is forever changed, again. Our view of Portsmouth is  forever changed and we're all one step closer to once again being able to walk over the bridge into downtown Portsmouth. Life at the marina in the winter can be challenging but it's times like this that we feel privileged to be where we are - it's exactly where we are meant to be! 

**If you are geeky and fascinated by these engineering marvels like we are, check out the Memorial Bridge Project Page - lots of great info, photos & schematics of the future bridge**


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