PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Business owners on both sides of the Memorial Bridge between Portsmouth, N.H. and Kittery, Maine, say they’re thrilled the aging span was reopened to traffic two weeks earlier than scheduled.

Some business owners say their sales had dropped from 30 to 50 percent after the bridge over the Piscataqua River was closed Dec. 9 because it was deemed unsafe.

But the New Hampshire Department of Transportation completed emergency repairs quicker than expected. Construction on a new bridge is set to begin in mid-2012.

Justin Hebert of Hebert Brothers Seafood in Kittery tells the Portsmouth Herald the closing of the bridge was like “turning off a faucet.” He says its being open again is “a sigh of relief.”