CROWN POINT — Cheers and applause greeted Gov. David Paterson's announcement that the new Crown Point Ferry will open Sunday.
Paterson made the statement at the end of a press conference Wednesday afternoon next to the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse in Crown Point.
"The ferry will start Sunday," Paterson said, although hours will be limited that day.
Residents of the area and members of the media packed a tent set up overlooking the temporary ferry docks, which are still under construction.
With Paterson was Stanley Gee, acting commissioner of the State Department of Transportation.
"It will be ready," Gee said. "If we have (good) weather like this, it will be ready."
After the press conference, Gee said Lake Champlain Transportation is bringing a ferry down today to start conducting trials.
"Unless we have a storm between now and then, it should be ready to run."
The 24-hour ferry will be free to vehicles under 27 feet in length.
Gee said the opening Sunday would probably be late in the day, and he hoped to be there for the first trip.
"If everything goes as it should, commuters will be able to take the (Crown Point) Ferry Monday morning."
Paterson said he knows closing the Champlain Bridge caused a tremendous personal and economic upheaval in the Champlain Valley.
"The result has been a devastating effect on businesses and families. We have worked to mitigate the severity of this situation."
Work on the temporary ferry began in November, soon after the Oct. 16 closing of the Champlain Bridge.
The bridge had severe concrete cracks in its pillars and was demolished by controlled explosives Dec. 28.
Paterson said that opening the new ferry will restore the travel corridor people used to get back and forth from New York to Vermont.
"We don't want people to go miles out of their way every day to get to jobs.