BERWICK, Maine — Structural and cosmetic upgrades to the bridge connecting Somersworth and Berwick over the Salmon Falls River are expected to begin later this month.

The $2.4 million Berwick Bridge project calls for installation of new support beams and support structures and a smoother, resurfaced bridge deck. Railroad tracks on the Somersworth side will be replaced and wider sidewalks will be installed for pedestrians and cyclists.

Maine Department of Transportation spokesman Ted Talbot said the work is needed to stabilize the bridge and extend its life. The age of the bridge, which carries Route 9 traffic between the two states, was not available Thursday.

The work is scheduled to begin March 24 and should finish by Nov. 15. Two lanes of the bridge will remain open during construction, Talbot said. Pedestrians will be able to cross during the construction. However, the span will be completely closed for a four-day weekend in the spring and for six separate nights over the course of the work.

During construction, vehicles traveling into Berwick will not be able to turn left after leaving the bridge. Instead, traffic will be rerouted to Wilson Street from Route 9, Talbot said.

The bridgework will coincide with a major downtown infrastructure project in Somersworth that includes utility work, paving and streetscape improvements. Talbot said the timing of the two projects is likely a coincidence.

“It’s no secret that there is one time of year when we can do construction and revitalization projects,” he said, referring to the roughly seven-month construction season.

“We know it is inconvenient for people and can be frustrating, but at the same time, these have been identified as high-priority projects, and these need to get done,” he continued.

Money for the bridge rehab comes from Maine Department of Transportation, N.H. Department of Transportation and the city of Somersworth. The city is using bond proceeds to help cover its share of the project. A complete breakdown of funding sources was not available.

“We are providing half of the federal funding to replace the deck,” N.H. Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton said. “The city of Somersworth is responsible for the N.H. half of the bridge [and is] paying half of the match. Maine [Department of Transportation] is the lead and owns the Maine half.”

Maine Department of Transportation awarded the bridge contract to Wyman & Simpson Inc. of Richmond, Maine. Attempts Thursday to reach a company representative for comment were not successful.

Distributed by MCT Information Services