By Michael Rosenfield, WBZ-TV New Hampshire Bureau Chief

PORTSMOUTH, NH (CBS)- The new Memorial Bridge linking Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine is set to open this week, two years after the old bridge was closed and demolished in 2011 because of deterioration.

Businesses frustrated by the closure are relieved the ordeal is finally over.

Ryan Cronin runs 3 businesses near the Portsmouth side of the bridge, and he says profits took a dive when the demolition of the old bridge began.

“It was pretty much 30% overnight when the bridge closed,” said Cronin, who runs Googie’s Sandwich Shoppe and Portsmouth Provisions.

A ceremony opening the new bridge is set for Thursday. Denis Switzer with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation says the two-year closure could have been longer.

“It did take two years,” Switzer told WBZ-TV today at the bridge site. “But in our perspective it only took two years.”

The contractor, Archer Western, is actually a few weeks behind schedule and is being fined $25,000 per day. That will add up to about $450,000.

The cost of the project is $81.4 million.

At Badger Island Pizzeria on the Kittery side of the bridge, the business relied on loyal customers, delivery and even the bridge workers to sustain them during the closure.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said manager Kellie Huddleston. “We’ve been waiting patiently, but we’re just excited for the traffic and the tourism.”

The previous Memorial Bridge carried 12,000 vehicles every day and 900 pedestrians and bicyclists.


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