Literacy Volunteers vice-president James Bullard, left, introduces Ted Zoli as the featured speaker at the organizations annual fundraising event at Camp Dudley in Westport. Zoli spoke on his work on the Champlain Bridge project.
When he was a camper at Camp Dudley, Ted Zoli never got to be a part of the “big show” in the Witherbee Auditorium at the end of each year.
Aug. 21 his time came. The designer of the new Champlain Bridge was the center of attention in that theatre as part of the Literacy Volunteers of Essex/Franklin Counties author discussion fundraiser.
“I finally made it in here,” he joked to the assembled audience in the auditorium as he began his remarks. “It’s a great honor to be allowed to design such a bridge here in the Adirondacks.”
Zoli said that he felt that the original Champlain Bridge, designed by Charles M. Spofford, was one of the two dozen most important bridges in the nation.
“This is one of them,” Zoli said, adding that he was hopeful when he was brought on during the decision phase of what to do with the original bridge that they could save it.
“My heart was set on a rehabilitation strategy because of how important the bridge was because of its visual and structural importance,” Zoli said.
However, Zoli said that as they looked at the evidence, the only conclusion that could be made was the demolition of the former bridge and the design and building of the new one.
Zoli said that in designing bridges, most tried to borrow from the past while adding innovation to the designs, as was the case with the new Champlain Bridge, adding that he had never seen as much public involvement with a bridge design process as he had with this.
“I have done a number of bridges, and the level of public input and involvement that we saw on this project is unprecedented,” he said. “When it came to the design and choice, a process that usually takes four or five years took a week.”
Zoli said the design team received more than 3,300 votes on the new design.
“Pretty much everyone who used the old bridge had a voice on the design of the new one,” Zoli said.
Literacy Volunteers Vice President James Bullard said that, while not an author, they were pleased to have Zoli as their featured speaker for the sixth annual fundraiser for the program.
“We have watched the two spans reaching out to meet each other across the lake,” Bullard said. “Ted has inspired a structure that will serve all of the people of this area for generations to come. It’s great that he has come home to design a bridge here in the heart of the Adirondacks.”
Maria Burke, Literacy Volunteers director, said her group was pleased to have Zoli speak.
“We were very fortunate to have him speak about this vital link, especially during this historical moment and on a topic that personally affects so many of us in the North Country,” Burke said. “We would like to thank Mr. Zoli for sharing his expertise and experience with us.