KITTERY — Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins says a new federal grant of $1 million for the Sarah Long Bridge replacement project should help expedite the construction of a new bridge.

Collins said Sunday the additional funding from the Federal Highway Administration will enable the Maine Department of Transportation to hire a construction manager/general contractor to hasten the design process and consult with the private sector. The construction manager will also study cost-effective and efficient construction methods.

The bridge runs between Kittery, Maine and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

In September, transportation officials from the two states reached a $158.5 million tentative price agreement to replace the bridge, which is rated structurally deficient. The new bridge is expected to open in August 2017.

Collins chairs the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee.

In September, she and New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen helped secure a $25 million grant specifically to replace the bridge’s rail component, enabling the transportation of materials from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery. Collins said the rail component supports an “important national security need.”

In addition to classifying the bridge as structurally deficient, the FHWA said the bridge’s 70-year-old truss spans could fracture and result in the bridge’s collapse.

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