3 votes

General Sullivan Bridge


General Sullivan Bridge

Photo taken by C Hanchey in October 2009


BH Photo #147724


Street View 


Bypassed continuous truss bridge over Little Bay on former US 4 in Dover
Dover, Strafford County, New Hampshire, and Rockingham County, New Hampshire
Open to pedestrians
Built 1934; rehabilitated 1950; bypassed in 1984
Three-span continuous truss (deck truss spans with arch truss center span)
Length of largest span: 274.9 ft.
Total length: 1,585.1 ft.
Deck width: 24.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 18.0 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Little Bay Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+43.11944, -70.82778   (decimal degrees)
43°07'10" N, 70°49'40" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
19/351308/4775700 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 25025 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection (as of 11/2007)
Deck condition rating: Imminent Failure (1 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Imminent Failure (1 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Imminent Failure (1 out of 9)
Appraisal: Structurally deficient
Sufficiency rating: 31.0 (out of 100)

Update Log 

  • April 13, 2010: New Street View added by Nathan Holth
  • October 16, 2009: Updated by C Hanchey: Bridge is known as the General Sullivan Bridge



Letter-to-the-editor for saving the General Sullivan Bridge.
Posted January 7, 2018, by Steve Lindsey (stevelindsey60 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Save the Sullivan Bridge

January 04. 2018 9:12PM

To the Editor: In this day of increasing congestion, obesity and climate change it seems like those who choose a means of transportation that mitigates all three should be promoted and encouraged by every means possible.

Walkable, cycling friendly towns are overwhelmingly where people want to visit and to live. Portsmouth and the Seacoast area is Exhibit A for this very reason. Developing and building out the areas non-motorized infrastructure fits in perfectly with this. But what is still missing is a way to link everything together. And the centerpiece of this network is the General Sullivan Bridge. The General Sullivan Bridge is unique in that it is the only means of accessing the Seacoast from points west (and vice versa) for non-motorized transportation. There is no other route.

An active transportation network that is safe and easy to use would attract more users and (especially) young people who are looking for alternatives and have shown a disdain for automobiles. (See Amazon’s recent requirements for siting their second headquarters.) Plus, it would work in a huge way to mitigate the most obnoxious negative effect of our rapid growth — cars. A person on a bike is a car off the road. We need more people on bikes. But first we need a path to ride on — or a bridge!

As it stands today the rusty, collapsing, neglected, use-at-your-own-risk, General Sullivan Bridge is the perfect metaphor for the state of active transportation in New Hampshire.



State newspaper editorial against saving the General Sullivan Bridge, "confusing old with historic"
Posted January 7, 2018, by Steve Lindsey (stevelindsey60 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

A bridge too far: $32 million for pedestrians and bikes

Union Leader EDITORIAL

December 13. 2017 12:10AM

If the General Sullivan Bridge connecting Newington and Dover didn’t exist, would New Hampshire transportation officials propose spending $32 million to build a new bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists?

We very much doubt it.

During a presentation in Portsmouth touting a proposed toll hike, DOT officials cited the Sullivan Bridge project, which would refurbish the bridge for the approximately 500 walkers and bikers who cross the span each week. The project is already in the DOT budget, and is scheduled whether or not tolls increase.

The DOT got a little overzealous trying to sell Seacoast residents on the goodies they’d receive if the Executive Council went through with a plan to hike tolls up to 50 percent.

The Sullivan Bridge has long outlived its usefulness. Supporters of sprucing up the Sullivan are confusing old with historic. The bridge hasn’t carried vehicle traffic in three decades. It is an eyesore, and the U.S. Coast Guard considers it an obstruction to navigation.

Tearing the bridge down and replacing it with a similar structure would cost even more. But why must the aging bridge be replaced with something similar to cater to a handful of people?

If the Executive Council believes that a lightly-travelled footbridge is such a high priority for New Hampshire’s transportation infrastructure, the state should find a more cost-effective way to achieve that goal.

General Sullivan Bridge
Posted January 7, 2018, by Steve Lindsey (stevelindsey60 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

$32M bicycle and pedestrian crossing to move forward with or without toll hike


Union Leader Correspondent

December 11. 2017 12:53AM

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that work on the General Sullivan Bridge will be sped up by a proposed toll increase. A spokesman for the state Department of Transportation said the work is already budgeted, and construction on the $32 million project will go forward even if the Executive Council does not approve the toll increase this month.

Officials from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation say a $32 million project to allow bicyclists and pedestrians to continue crossing the long-defunct General Sullivan Bridge over Little Bay will remain on track even if tolls do not increase.

The state is currently widening the adjoining Little Bay Bridge from two lanes to four lanes in each direction to alleviate rush-hour backups. But there are no plans for access to bicyclists and pedestrians on the stretch of the Spaulding Turnpike connecting Newington and Dover.

Approximately 500 bicyclists and pedestrians used the General Sullivan Bridge weekly in counts performed in July 2016, according to New Hampshire Department of Transportation Chief Project Manager Keith Cota.

State officials recognize the cost of the bridge project is high, but it has been argued the General Sullivan Bridge is a historic landmark. Cota said the structure is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The bridge opened in 1935 and has been closed to vehicular traffic for three decades.

Construction on the General Sullivan Bridge is planned as the final part of a $260 million major capital project on the turnpike in Dover and Newington. It is slated for fiscal years 2019 to 2022, according to a slide presentation by Deputy Commissioner Christopher Waszczuk during a public hearing in Portsmouth last week.

Bill Cass, the assistant commissioner and chief engineer for the NH DOT, said the department is looking into the most cost-effective option of partially removing and replacing the bridge with a like superstructure.

The state has committed to rehabilitating the bridge under the National Environmental Policy Act, Cass said.

“We have reopened the NEPA process and we are engaging stakeholders in that dialogue,” Cass said.

A complete bridge removal and replacement has an estimated construction cost of $43.7 million. The partial removal and replacement plan will cost $31.7 million and is the cheapest of all alternatives, officials have said.

The U.S. Coast Guard advised the state years ago to remove the General Sullivan Bridge, saying it no longer functions in the manner originally intended and is an obstruction to navigation, according to the NH DOT website.

Jeffrey Stieb, a bridge management specialist at the U.S. Coast Guard, said Friday the Coast Guard will work with the state on the General Sullivan Bridge plan, so long as the needs of vessel navigation are met.

General Sullivan Bridge
Posted October 13, 2017, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

They used that "too dangerous to allow workers on the bridge to repair it" excuse to demolish this bridge's "sister span" over Lake Champlain in New York and Vermont. However, with the Lake Champlain Bridge, the reason for this excuse was due to substructure (pier) deterioration. It is not clear that this New Hampshire example suffers from the same type of deterioration. Sadly though this country seems to place little value these days on having its elected officials make truthful statements, instead rewarding those who make bombastic statements.

General Sullivan Bridge
Posted October 13, 2017, by Michael Quiet (mquiet [at] gmail [dot] com)

In what shouldn't come as any surprise given NH's recent war on metal truss bridges, even this early and iconic example of a continuous arch bridge is now under threat, with possible replacement on the horizon for 2019.


My favorite part of the article is the state senator quote of “When they were first talking about restoring the bridge, the cost was about $30 million. Now, it is up to about $42 million. Also, the bridge is in such bad shape that the work will be dangerous to the people hired to do it.”. Amazing how not fixing the problem and continuing to allow it to rot increases the cost of fixing it. Sadly it sentiments like this which allow so many bridges to be lost.