An estimated 3,500 to 4,000 vehicles a day used the bridge, and 1,500 New York state residents had jobs in Vermont when the bridge closed.
DIG WRAPPING UP
Work to establish a free, 24-hour ferry next to the existing bridge is continuing with an archeological dig of the proposed site that concludes today.
A crew is also doing test borings of the lake bed where the ferry docks would be placed to ensure the soil can support the weight.
Gee said the temporary ferry at the bridge could be operational in a month.
He said they will try to streamline the process of building a new bridge.
“We’re moving as quickly as we can.”
He said they have, so far, taken a year off the construction timetable. The bridge had already been scheduled for repair or replacement in 2013.
A new bridge could cost about $50 million, Gee said. The federal government would pay 80 percent, and New York and Vermont would split the rest of the cost.
Vermont Secretary of Transportation David Dill agreed that a new bridge should be built as quickly as possible.
“The bridge closure significantly disrupted communities on both sides of the lake. The fastest way to return families, businesses and farms back to normal is to quickly provide them with a new bridge.”
Gee said he didn’t know if a new bridge would be steel, concrete or a combination of both.
“When we get further along the design process, we’ll know that.”
Crown Point Supervisor-elect Bethany Kosmider said she’d been briefed earlier in the day by DOT officials on the bridge findings.
“I’m pleased they’re moving forward with a plan that seems to be viable.”
Gee defended the DOT from critics who say regular bridge inspections and maintenance were not performed and could have saved the span.
“Our vigorous bridge-inspection program gave us the information to close this bridge.”
Dennison said the Champlain Bridge deteriorated significantly since the last underwater inspection four years ago.
A $1 million project to replace corroded steel on the bridge was just concluding when the pillar cracks and erosion were discovered.
E-mail Lohr McKinstry at: