4 votes

General Sullivan Bridge


General Sullivan Bridge

Photo taken by C Hanchey in October 2009


BH Photo #147724


Bypassed continuous truss bridge over Little Bay on former US 4 in Dover
Dover, Strafford County, New Hampshire, and Rockingham County, New Hampshire
Intact but closed to all traffic
Future prospects
Slated for demolition, per Section 106.
Built 1934; rehabilitated 1950; bypassed in 1984; Closed 2018
- Crandrall Engineering Co.
- Fay, Spofford & Thorndike of Burlington, Massachusetts
- Lackawanna Steel Co. of Lackawanna, New York
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 report (as of November 2009)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Imminent Failure (1 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Imminent Failure (1 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Imminent Failure (1 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 31 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • February 27, 2022: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • December 10, 2021: Updated by Nathan Holth: This bridge is now doomed.
  • December 10, 2021: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • August 18, 2020: Updated by Nick Boppel: Bridge has been closed to all traffic since 2018
  • June 29, 2020: New photos from Patrick Gurwell
  • April 13, 2018: New photos from Royce and Bobette Haley
  • April 9, 2018: Updated by Royce and Bobette Haley: Design
  • 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

Related Bridges 


  • C Hanchey - cmh2315fl [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Nathan Holth
  • Todd Wilson
  • Royce and Bobette Haley - roycehaley111 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Patrick Gurwell - pgurwell [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Nick Boppel - nickboppel01 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Geoff Hubbs


General Sullivan Bridge
Posted September 28, 2018, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

The article said "A"... As in one singular floor beam is bad. That would be an easy replacement. Other than that I see a beautiful structure that needs a paint job. I saw nothing in any of those photos that suggested rampant section loss.

More bureaucratic BS...

General Sullivan Bridge
Posted September 28, 2018, by Brianna Tarness (briannatarness82 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Bridge indefinitely closed:


WARNING! One of the image renderings in the above article is of a proposed replacement for the General Sullivan Bridge. It is hideously ugly and is a USEB (Ugly Steel Eyesore Bridge).

While the current bridge definitely looks scary and falling apart with all of the rust both above and below the deck, I don’t think that its an irreversible problem. If the structure can no longer carry any traffic due to the extreme deterioration, the trusses should be relocated elsewhere for a non-functional display exhibit.

Sadly, it appears that this bridge may ultimately have the same fate as the Waldo-Hancock Suspension Bridge up in Maine, where the bridge was allowed to deteriorate after being closed to vehicular traffic and was not maintained, and therefore had to be demolished for safey’s sake. While safety does come first in anything, sometimes I wonder if safety and preservation could go together more frequently...

General Sullivan Bridge
Posted May 1, 2018, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)


Yes, actually I have told someone to take my photo off Facebook when they were passing it off as their own work. Copyright is copyright. Period.

General Sullivan Bridge
Posted May 1, 2018, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Licensed. You keep using that word but I don't think you know what it means.

You cannot legally post copyrighted photographs on your website without permission or a license from the copyright holder. Full stop. By posting somebody else's photographs on your website, you are setting yourself up for a DMCA takedown notice or a lawsuit. You can either learn this the easy way or the hard way.

General Sullivan Bridge
Posted May 1, 2018, by Amanda


You don't go around and tell people that they need to get "permission" in order to post a photo on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media/blog site.

Again, my website is NOT LICENSED.

Regardless though, how am I supposed to know the real identity of the author when they don't leave an email address or any other contact information?

General Sullivan Bridge
Posted May 1, 2018, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)


Did you get permission from C. Hanchey to use his photo on your website?


General Sullivan Bridge, Portsmouth Herald editorial echoes Union Leader's for Removal
Posted February 1, 2018, by Steve Lindsey (stevelindsey60 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Editorial: General Sullivan Bridge may need to go.

For decades the General Sullivan Bridge ferried travelers over the Little Bay between Portsmouth and Dover. Standing proudly, it served as a lifeline between the coast and inland communities such as Dover and Rochester. It provided a gateway for tourists and residents alike to our White Mountains region.

But as time wears on all of us, so it did on this iconic structure, which was put into service in 1935. Retirement came in 1984 with the opening of the second Little Bay Bridge.

Unfortunately, decision makers along the way sidestepped the question of what to do with this rusting, elderly green giant, and now the costs of doing anything have skyrocketed.

The time has now come to answer the question of what to do as we near completion of the second bridge and concerns rise about the safe use of the General Sullivan as it continues to deteriorate.

Also pushing a decision are concerns of bike riders, whose numbers have grown in recent years and who must get from one side of the bay to the other during and after construction.

As discussions now stand, attention is being focused on either rehabilitating the General Sullivan or removing its iron structure and building a narrower pedestrian/bike bridge using the existing pilings.

Unfortunately, the cost for either of those plans is jaw-dropping.

The price of a complete restoration of the 1,500-foot structure is tagged at $43.9 million. The alternative, which includes using the concrete piling superstructure as the basis for a narrower bridge, is $32.6 million.

There is a third alternative we believe may better balance the needs of commuters and the state’s financial realities, albeit as a comparatively new consideration that as yet has no price tag. Aside from cost, it would also appear to satisfy the needs of pedestrians and bike riders. That alternative would be to eliminate the General Sullivan Bridge and add a bike/pedestrian path as another new lane to the southbound Little Bay Bridge.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for SABR, a 26-year-old advocacy group for bike riders, said that what ultimately happens with the old bridge is less of a concern to the group than making sure bicycle access is maintained through whatever construction ultimately occurs.

We understand that in order to move the process along, New Hampshire had to provide assurances to the federal government that the General Sullivan would remain in some way over Little Bay.

The General Sullivan is considered a historic landmark. It is one of the highest rated historic bridges in the state, eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and identified under federal regulations as a highly valued Section 4(f) resource. As such, the U.S. DOT Act of 1966 protects significant publicly owned parks, recreational areas, wildlife and waterfowl refuges and public and private historic sites.

But, to the best of our knowledge, Washington plans to provide nothing in the way of financial support to rebuild the General Sullivan either in whole or part as the costs of saving the rusting structure have escalated sharply from estimates as comparatively low as $26 million only four years ago.

Surely, we would like to see the General Sullivan continue to serve the region in some fashion. It is hard to imagine crossing Little Bay without seeing the old soldier standing at attention. Unfortunately, New Hampshire has a long list of red-listed bridges and roads in desperate need of repairs. Planners and the Legislature must look at needs instead of wants to keep all of our well traveled roads and bridges safe.

-- References: http://bit.do/project-alternatives, http://bit.do/section4f.

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.