CROWN POINT - The Lake Champlain Bridge in Crown Point, closed more than a month because of safety concerns, will be demolished.
Engineers have determined it is not feasible to rehabilitate the 80-year-old span.
An underwater inspection of the bridge's concrete piers and underlying foundations found cracks and significant deterioration in the unreinforced concrete substructures well below the water level that render these supports so fragile that a sudden collapse could occur.
"Safety was our primary concern when we closed the Lake Champlain Bridge last month and it is our chief interest now," New York Gov. David Paterson said, announcing the decision to tear down the bridge.. "We must make a decision that protects those who cross the bridge, as well as workers and engineers, and therefore we have no choice but to tear down the dangerously deteriorated bridge."
The bridge is jointly owned by New York and Vermont, although New York has responsibility for bridge maintenance.
"Reports indicate that the bridge is highly unstable and our harsh winter will only aggravate its condition," Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas said. "For everyone's safety, the bridge must be dismantled in a controlled fashion quickly so that a replacement bridge can be erected in its place."
Douglas said both states are working to install temporary ferry service as close to the bridge as possible so that motorists can once again begin crossing Lake Champlain between Addison and Crown Point.
Stanley Gee, acting commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation, said, "Now that the analysis is completed and the bridge has been found unstable, we can work quickly to demolish the existing bridge and accelerate the process for building a permanent replacement. We look forward to restoring vehicle and pedestrian traffic across the lake. In order to preserve and protect the historically and environmentally sensitive areas on both side of Lake Champlain, we plan to build the replacement bridge as close to the existing location as is possible."
Both governors have emphasized that until a new bridge can be built, a temporary new ferry service should be established as quickly as possible. To that end, they noted that all of the required environmental documentation will be submitted to the appropriate federal agencies early this week, so that construction of new ferry docks can begin as soon as possible.
Last month, officials announced transportation alternatives to cross Lake Champlain. Those alternatives include a free ferry service between Ticonderoga and Shoreham, Vt., as well as free ferry service at Lake Champlain Transportation's ferry service at the Essex/Charlotte crossing. Additionally, a free express bus service now brings commuters to three major employers in Vermont, while a pedestrian ferry service was established north of the Lake Champlain Bridge between Westport, New York and Basin Harbor, Vt.