ADDISON — Transportation officials from Vermont and New York on Monday announced that the Champlain Bridge that spans Lake Champlain between Addison, Vt., and Crown Point, N.Y., will be demolished.
The bridge was closed abruptly on Oct. 16 after an inspection of the 80-year-old bridge revealed structural deficiencies in two of its 11 concrete piers.
Vermont Agency of Transportation Secretary David Dill and Acting New York Department of Transportation Commissioner Stanley Gee said at a press conference at the bridge in Addison that the structure would be torn down to make way for an all new bridge.
They gave no timetable for either the destruction or construction projects. But they said that they could be ready to start construction as much as a year earlier than previously had been planned, which would mean construction starts in 2012. The bridge was reduced to one lane of traffic last July because of concerns about the steel superstructure, and the New York DOT, which has taken the lead on sorting out the bridge’s future, at that time started scoping out the renovation or replacement of the span. At an Oct. 8 meeting to update citizens on that process, New York officials said construction could begin in 2013.
In the meantime, a temporary ferry — with the ability to break ice and carry large vehicles — will be established around 1,000 feet south of the Champlain Bridge, which is also known as the Crown Point Bridge. That ferry service will operate until the new bridge is opened, officials at the Monday press conference said.
Before its closing last month, the bridge was a critical transportation link for the region serving around 3,400 cars a day. Since then drivers who used the bridge — many of them for a daily commute to work — have scrambled to cross the lake. Many of taken the 80-plus-mile detour south of the lake through Whitehall, N.Y., and Fair Haven, Vt., while others have taken advantage of expanded ferry service at the Shoreham, Vt.,-Ticonderoga, N.Y., and Charlotte, Vt.-Essex, N.Y., crossings.
VTrans spokesman John Zicconi last week said the “likely scenario” calls for the ferry operation would involve “some kind of a temporary bridge leading to floating barges that cars and trucks could drive upon to get out far enough into the lake to interface with the ferry.”
He noted the lake appears to be shallow in the targeted location, so the length of the barge would likely be around 300 feet, as the ferry needs at least a 9-foot depth of water in which to operate. Zicconi at the time said the new ferry would be free and would be considered the substitute for traffic that would otherwise be going across the Champlain Bridge.