PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — The Coast Guard is shutting down river traffic around the Memorial Bridge between Maine and New Hampshire as workers begin demolition.

Officials say the closure of the Piscataqua River begins this morning and will be in effect for 72 hours to give workers time to complete their task.

Workers hope to remove the 2-million-pound lift span on Tuesday by disconnecting it from its supporting cables and lowering it onto a barge in the Piscataqua River. Over the coming months, workers will continue to dismantle the old U.S. 1 bridge that connects Kittery and Portsmouth, N.H.

The new bridge is expected to open in July 2013.

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