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(NECN: Lauren Collins, Portsmouth, NH) - It was a combination of wind and cold that caused the 73-year-old Sarah Mildred Long Bridge to essentially jump its track Wednesday night.
“When it came off the guide it also bent the structural steel that was supporting the guides,” explained Steve Johnson of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.
The middle span is stuck, slightly higher than the rest of the Route 1 bypass. That leaves I-95 as the only way to cross from Portsmouth, New Hampshire into Kittery, Maine, and there's a busy maritime schedule later this week, so workers are on overtime to fast track the repairs.
Some jobs can't wait for better weather. As any public works department will tell you it's always the coldest days of the year when underground pipes burst, like one in Portsmouth, or one that closed Murkland Hall at the University of New Hampshire.
When the temperature drops the work load goes up at Buxton Oil where they were busy “catching up with automatic deliveries and making sure everybody's tank is full and that they're kept warm over these cold, cold, bitterly cold days,” said owner Donna Buxton.
That means long hours for drivers who, oddly enough, don't seem to mind the coldest conditions in years.
“Excellent,” exclaimed John Driscoll. “It's like a work out. Once you start in the morning it's like going to the gym every day.”
Not the same sentiments for the DOT crews who have to do their work on the perilous underside of the Long Bridge
“It's not an easy job even in good weather,” said Johnson. “The weather obviously doesn't make it any easier down there, especially the wind.”