New York State Department of Transportation will shoot for a spring repair of lights on the Champlain Bridge.
The new Lake Champlain Bridge has become a tourism attraction in itself.
Looking to capitalize on the popularity of the new span, local historians will offer a program that traverses the bridge on foot with a narrative of the region’s history. It’s set Sunday, Sept. 30, at 1 p.m.
People should meet at the Crown Point State Historic Site museum entrance. The fee is $5 for adults. Children younger than age 15 will be free.
The tour will be led by Tom Hughes, manager of the Crown Point State Historic Site, and Elsa Gilbertson , manager of the Chimney Point, Vt., Historic Site.
“Would you like to know more about the history of what one sees while walking on the sidewalks of the new Lake Champlain Bridge connecting New York and Vermont?” asked Hughes.
“Over the centuries, this crossing has been used by Woodlands Indians, the French, the British and Americans,” he said. “The narrow channel passage for water vessels and the peninsulas, or points, on the east and west sides made this one of the most strategic military locations along Lake Champlain, throughout the 1700s especially.”
Hughes said binoculars and still cameras are welcome on the narrated stroll. He added that the fall foliage season is beginning.
“Crown Point State Historic Site enjoys breath-taking views,” Hughes said.
For Crown Point the tour is an official National Public Lands Day (www.publiclandsday.org) activity. For Chimney Point the tour is the final public activity of Vermont Archeology Month (www.vtarchaeology.org).
For more information call the Crown Point State Historic Site at 597-3666 or the Chimney Point Historic Site at 802-759-2412.
The old Lake Champlain Bridge, which served the region eight decades, was immediately closed Oct. 16, 2009, when state transportation officials, without warning, declared it unsafe.
The bridge served about 3,000 vehicles a day, meaning people who used the bridge daily to reach their jobs, health care facilities, grocery stores and other necessities were forced to take detours lasting up to four hours. The closing led to the closure of businesses on both sides of the lake and crippled tourism.
A temporary ferry service was installed to link Crown Point and Addison, Vt.
The bridge was demolished in December 2009 and construction started on a new bridge in June 2010. The new bridge opened Nov. 7, 2011.
The new Network Tied Arch Bridge is a steel structure with an arch along the center span. The bridge’s design makes it significantly safer than the previous structure and will ensure at least a 75-year service life. Key bridge components are designed to be easily replaceable to reduce maintenance costs. Travel lanes are 11 feet wide, with five-foot shoulders that will help accommodate larger trucks and farm vehicles, as well as provide ample room for bicyclists. Sidewalks are featured on both sides of the bridge.
The eight-story, 402-foot long, 1.8 million pound arch was constructed at Velez Marine in Port Henry, then floated down the lake and lifted into place. Building the arch on land was much faster, easier and cost-efficient than trying to safely build the arch high in the air above Lake Champlain.
The new bridge was built at the same location as the previous structure to minimize historic and environmental impacts on the surrounding area. The land adjacent to the bridge on both sides of the lake is historically sensitive, with Native American, French and Indian War and Revolutionary War artifacts buried deep along the shores of Lake Champlain. The ruins of 18th century forts – the French Fort St. Frederic and British Crown Point sit on the New York side of the bridge.