CROWN POINT - The aging Champlain Bridge that connects Crown Point with Vermont will be renovated or replaced beginning in 2013.
The New York State Department of Transportation has announced it has reached an agreement with the Vermont Agency of Transportation on a $50.1 million project.
That's goods news, Crown Point Supervisor Dale French said.
"It's not in great shape," French said of the span. "There are some huge loads - 100,000 pounds - that cross that bridge every day. It looks bad, but I guess it's safe. The state keeps checking it."
The bridge is owned by both New York and Vermont, although New York has been entrusted with the bridge's maintenance. Under a prior agreement, the two states will share the cost of rehabilitation or replacement.
"The project is in a preliminary planning stage," DOT spokesman Peter Van Keuren said. "Construction is tentatively planned to begin in 2013."
HTNB Corporation of New York City has been selected as design consultant. Options include rehabilitation or replacement of the existing bridge.
The 80-year-old bridge accommodates approximately 3,400 vehicles each day.
The existing structure is a combination of a thru-truss, deck-truss and deck plate girders measuring 2,184 feet in length on 14 spans.
The bridge received a "yellow flag" from the state in 2007 indicating it was in need of repair. Repairs to the bridge were completed in late 2008, and included removing loose concrete, doweling reinforcement into existing concrete and pouring new concrete pier caps. The "yellow flag" designation has since been removed.
One of the first tasks the HTNB Corporation will complete is an evaluation of the existing structure to determine the feasibility of rehabilitating the bridge, including cost of the work and
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potential impacts to motorists, according to a DOT statement. All options will be identified and evaluated and public input will be solicited before progressing a particular alternative.
A public advisory committee formed three years ago, consisting of representatives from New York and Vermont, will have a say in the final plans.
French serves on that committee. He expects a fight between preservation groups who want to save the historic bridge and others who want a new bridge.
"The preservationists will be the loudest," French said. "But it would be really nice to see a new bridge that would accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists."
The advisory committee hasn't met in more than a year, French said, but when it did discussions centered on a new bridge to be constructed just south of the existing span. The current bridge would remain open two years while the new one was built, French said.
A new bridge has two major advantages over a renovation project, French said. It would be cheaper and it would allow for continued traffic flow.
Because of its construction type, French, who is an engineer, said, the current bridge can't be repaired one lane at a time. It would have to be renovated while closed.
"Closing that bridge would create a state of emergency," French said. "We have shared emergency services across the lake, not to mention the economic impact."
A temporary "military-style" bridge could use used during a renovation project, he said. That would interfere with lake traffic, though.
Public information meetings will be scheduled during the project's design phase to provide an opportunity for community input.
The public can comment on the project by emailing r01-lakechamplainbridge @dot.state.ny.us, writing NYSDOT, Region One Design, 328 State Street, Schenectady 12305, Attn: James C. Boni, P.E., or calling 388-0200.