Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas and New York State Gov. David A. Paterson broke ground on the new Lake Champlain Bridge spanning the lake between Crown Point and Addison last week. A lot of local businesses and commuters on both sides of the lake let out a big sigh of relief. At long last!
"Those who live and work in the area surrounding the Lake Champlain Bridge share family, friends and business relationships on both sides of the lake," Gov. Douglas told the assembled state and local VIPs, news reporters, and residents of both states. "The ease and timeliness of transportation across Lake Champlain is critical to their way of life and economy. Everyone involved in this bridge project should be commended for getting us to this point so quickly."
The new bridge is being constructed basically at the same location as the demolished 1929 structure. If all goes well and there are no environmental or financing holdups, the bridge should be open for traffic in September 2011.
The modern modified network tied arch bridge design is certainly evocative of the 1929 bridge; residents should be proud with this design since many of us had a genuine say in the selection of the steel structure.
Unlike it's 1929 predecessor, it's too bad a New York-New England regional contractor couldn't have been found to construct the new lake bridge. Be that as it may, the highly capable firm of Flatiron Constructors, Inc. of Colorado was awarded the big job. Flatiron has said it will offer many hood paying jobs to qualified local workers. (We won't be the only folks watching Flatiron to see this promise fulfilled.)
According to Gov. Paterson's comments, Flatiron has been in operation since 1947 and it has extensive experience building bridges in both the U.S. and Canada. The Rocky Mountain State company rebuilt the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, Minn., following its disastrous collapse three years ago.
So, armed with a solid design and a skilled contractor, there's a lot of reason to be hopeful that our new Lake Champlain Bridge will be the focus of pride for many years to come.