Skip to main content

General Sullivan Bridge



Named for famed Revolutionary War General John Sullivan, the General Sullivan Bridge is a grand old bridge which graces the Great Bay of the Piscataqua River between Dover and Newington in New Hampshire's Seacoast region, not far from Portsmouth. Built in 1934, the 1,585 foot long continuous truss bridge is the longest existing pre-1940 bridge in New Hampshire and was similar in design to the old Lake Champlain Bridge between Vermont and New York State. The General Sullivan Bridge was a trailblazer. Designed by Fay, Spofford and Thorndike, a nationally recognized bridge engineering firms of the time, the continuous truss form advanced the design and construction methods of its day and it is attributed to the influence of future highway bridges that use similar structural principles and configuration.

In the vicinity of the General Sullivan Bridge was one of the earliest water crossings in New Hampshire. Over time, and as automobile traffic increased, the roads approaching the crossing became part of the first set of state highways in New Hampshire, which now follow the US 4 and NH 16 corridors. The General Sullivan Bridge carried traffic across Little Bay for more than 30 years until traffic demands along the Spaulding Turnpike required more capacity and the Little Bay Bridge was constructed and opened in 1966. The General Sullivan Bridge continued to carry southbound traffic until 1984 when the Little Bay Bridge was widened and all turnpike traffic was routed on to the newer bridges. Since that time, the General Sullivan Bridge has been a bicycle and pedestrian crossing and a location for anglers who enjoy fishing in the Great Bay below.

However, the General Sullivan Bridge may not be long for this world. In 2010 and 2015, fencing was installed along the deck to limit access to the middle part of the deck based on the bridge's deterioration. In 2017, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation determined the General Sullivan “was not rehab safe,” and in 2018 it was closed to even pedestrian and bike travel. NHDOT had planned to rehabilitate the General Sullivan Bridge as part of the Spaulding Turnpike expansion project, but in 2018, NHDOT officials acknowledged it would be much cheaper to replace the bridge than rehabilitate it. Officials estimated it would save $16.3 million to take down and rebuild the bridge rather than repairing it, while also saving $44.3 million in maintenance costs over the expected 75 year life of the bridge. There is an historic nature to the old bridge, as in 1988, the bridge was deemed eligible for National Register of Historic Places consideration. So if the bridge is torn down, some historic artifacts related to the old bridge may be kept and displayed.

In 2013, I made a couple of trips to the New Hampshire Seacoast region to explore the General Sullivan Bridge. This was in preparation for the Portsmouth road meet that I hosted during 2013. Naturally, I took a number of photos for your enjoyment.

Starting to walk up the bridge from the Newington shore of the Great Bay.
Starting to walk up the bridge from the Newington shore of the Great Bay.

Fencing that was put up in 2010 to help protect the bridge.
Looking back towards the Newington side of the bridge. There was construction taking place on the adjacent Little Bay Bridge at the time I visited.

Walking towards the Dover side of the bridge. There is a small park called Hilton Park on the Dover side of the General Sullivan Bridge.


Looking out into the Great Bay.
Walking towards Dover's Hilton Park.
Walking back to Newington.






How to Get There:




Sources and Links:
About the General Sullivan Bridge - New Hampshire Department of Transportation
General Sullivan Bridge - HistoricBridges.org
General Sullivan Bridge - Bridgehunter.com

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Niagara Falls

  Arguably the world's most famous waterfall, or rather a set of waterfalls, Niagara Falls may not need much of an introduction, as it is a very popular tourist attraction in both New York State and the Province of Ontario, a destination of plenty of honeymooning couples, vacationing families and college students out for a good time for a weekend. Niagara Falls is also the site of many daredevil activities over the years, such as tightrope walking and going over the falls in a barrel. It is always nice to have a bit of a refresher, of course. Niagara Falls is made up of two main waterfalls, American Falls (also known as Rainbow Falls), which is on the American side of the border and Horseshoe Falls (also known as Canadian Falls), where the border between the United States and Canada crosses. There is also a smaller waterfall on the New York side of the border, which is Bridal Veil Falls. The height of the waterfalls are impressive, with Horseshoe Falls measuring at

The Smithtown Bull in Smithtown, New York

  Before I moved to Upstate New York as a young man, I grew up in the Long Island town of Smithtown during the 1980s and 1990s. The recognizable symbol of Smithtown is a bronze statue of a bull named Whisper, located at the junction of NY Route 25 and NY Route 25A near the bridge over the Nissequogue River. Why a bull, you may ask. The bull is a symbol of a legend related to the town's founding in 1665 by Richard "Bull" Smythe, with a modernized name of Richard Smith. It also so happens that there is a story behind the legend, one that involves ancient land right transfers and some modern day roads as well. So the story goes that Smythe made an agreement with a local Indian tribe where Smythe could keep whatever land he circled around in a day's time riding atop his trusty bull. Choosing the longest day of the year for his ride, he set out with his bull Whisper and went about riding around the borders of the Town of Smithtown. As legend has it, Smythe t

Route 75 Tunnel - Ironton, Ohio

In the Ohio River community of Ironton, Ohio, there is a former road tunnel that has a haunted legend to it. This tunnel was formerly numbered OH 75 (hence the name Route 75 Tunnel), which was renumbered as OH 93 due to I-75 being built in the state. Built in 1866, it is 165 feet long and once served as the northern entrance into Ironton, originally for horses and buggies and later for cars. As the tunnel predated the motor vehicle era, it was too narrow for cars to be traveling in both directions. But once US 52 was built in the area, OH 93 was realigned to go around the tunnel instead of through the tunnel, so the tunnel was closed to traffic in 1960. The legend of the haunted tunnel states that since there were so many accidents that took place inside the tunnel's narrow walls, the tunnel was cursed. The haunted legend states that there was an accident between a tanker truck and a school bus coming home after a high school football game on a cold, foggy Halloween night in 1