It was a muggy 65 degrees at 5 a.m. Friday, Aug. 26 in Port Henry, N.Y. Stars glistened in the dark sky and a slim crescent moon hung over Lake Champlain as residents and visitors streamed into the boat launch adjacent to Velez Marine to watch Flatiron Construction workers move the Champlain Bridge arch to its new home at the bridge site between Crown Point, N.Y. and Addison, Vt.
Two tugboats towed the arch, which sat on two barges, one on each end. The trip began around 6 a.m. As the arch was pivoted in the bay at Port Henry, onlookers saw three flags hanging from the steel span, a Vermont state flag for the east side of the bridge, a New York state flag for the west side of the bridge and an American flag in the middle.
The arch’s journey ended around 8:30 a.m. when it arrived at the bridge. It was then moved into place and secured before being lifted up to the top. Hundreds of people witnessed the historic event from various places, including the Crown Point State Campground, the Crown Point State Historic Site, boats on the lake, the two ferries, and points along the Vermont side of the lake.
The main navigational channel through the center span was closed as the arch was lifted into place and secured. Marine traffic was directed through an alternative navigational channel during this time period. The ferry connecting New York State to Vermont remained open and operational at all times.
Crews worked into the evening hours to lift the arch.
Check out the New York State Department of Transportation’s Lake Champlain Bridge webcam page: https://www.nysdot.gov/lakechamplainbridge/bridgecam to see the bridge. The webcam takes periodic still shots of the construction site.
Flatiron Construction of Colorado is building the bridge. The original opening date of Oct. 9 has been delayed; spring flooding put the project behind. Therefore, the bridge celebration originally slated for Oct. 15-16 has been postponed until May 19-20, 2012.
The state has granted Flatiron a 65-day extension, giving the company until Dec. 13 to finish the bridge. Incentives are in place for an early finish date, according NYSDOT Executive Deputy Commissioner Stanley Gee, who gave an impromptu press conference Aug. 26 at the Crown Point State Historic Site. Flatiron will earn $30,000 for each day it completes the bridge before Dec. 13. Likewise, it will cost the company $30,000 for each day past Dec. 13, Gee said. The DOT will not give an opening date for the bridge, but Gee said the DOT hopes it will happen before 2012.