March 21, 2013

Champlain Bridge lights out


---- — CROWN POINT — The partial failure of lighting on the new Champlain Bridge is expected to be solved this spring.

Segments of arch and walkway lights on both sides of the bridge are not working, and the New York State Department of Transportation believes wiring issues are to blame.

Previous reports were that water was getting into junction boxes that control the segments of lighting, shorting out the wiring.

DOT spokesman Bryan Viggiani said 55 LED floodlights and 276 LED walkway lights line the bridge, which was built in 2011 at a total cost of $76 million.

“We (DOT) are aware that numerous lights, both along the sidewalks and on the arches, are currently out,” he said in a statement. “Based on our initial investigations of the lighting system on the bridge, we have determined that certain aspects are not functioning as intended due to complications in its design and construction.”


It’s too cold now to get into the bridge’s wiring, Viggiani said.

“In the spring, we will begin a thorough investigation of the entire lighting system on the bridge to determine the specific cause of the problem. The temperature must be consistently above freezing so the wiring is not brittle when the contractor is investigating the issues. 

“Otherwise, unintentional damage to the lighting system could occur.”

Moriah Town Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava, an electrician, said he’s never heard of wire being too cold to work on.

“Wire jacket is temperature-rated for current load and also ambient temperature. If the electrical contractor installed the system in accordance with the design specifications, then the engineer is responsible.”

DOT said that once the problem is identified, repairs will be made “by our contractor as soon as feasible to restore functionality and prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.”

The bridge also incorporates navigational lights on its undersides for Lake Champlain boat traffic, but those are still functioning.


Members of the Lake Champlain Bridge Coalition, a grassroots group that supported construction of a new bridge, made numerous inquiries to DOT about the lights over the last few months and was finally told they would be fixed this spring, Co-Director Karen Hennessy said.

The original Champlain Bridge was closed on Oct. 16, 2009, when it was 80 years old, due to severe structural cracks. It was blown up with controlled explosives in December 2009. The new span opened Nov. 7, 2011.

The bridge connects Crown Point with Chimney Point, Vt., and is used by thousands of commuters daily.

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