Press-Republican

Local News

September 16, 2009

Champlain Bridge future debated

Span's condition worse than thought; 2-lane traffic resuming

ADDISON, Vt. — The committee advising a project to repair or replace the Champlain Bridge was told Wednesday that the span is in worse structural shape than was previously known.

The Champlain Bridge Project Public Advisory Committee gathered at the Addison, Vt., fire station to get an update from New York State Department of Transportation structural engineer Thomas Hoffman on the $1 million repair project that's under way.

"Is the bridge safe? It's safe for what it's doing," Hoffman said.

He said the bridge has problems with bearings, joints, main steel members and concrete, only some of which are getting fixed now.

TWO LANES IN OCTOBER

He also revealed that the bridge, which now has only one lane open and is regulated by a temporary traffic light, will return to two-lane travel by the end of October.

The one-lane traffic that began in July has been a major inconvenience to the almost 5,000 drivers that a recent study showed use it every day.

The current work is only taking care of the significant safety issues, Hoffman said.

"We're finishing our chord (steel) repairs. Floor repairs are still going on. In the spring, the inspectors will come back out."

Deterioration of the bridge's riveted connecting plates and hanging straps is not being addressed with these repairs, he said.

The project to rehabilitate or replace the 2,184-foot-long bridge in 2013 is being developed under a bi-state agreement.

BRIDGE OPTIONS

Hoffman said he didn't know if the bridge could be kept open during the construction project.

The committee will be looking at use of a temporary military bridge during construction, although that bridge would be lower and could impede boating traffic on the lake.

Ruth Fitzgerald, a planning consultant from Fitzgerald & Halliday of Hartford, Conn., ran the meeting.

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