Press-Republican

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January 31, 2012

Cracks found in new Champlain Bridge

Superficial, hairline fractures routine, state officials declare

CROWN POINT — Unlike cracks found in the old bridge, state officials say those found in the concrete of the new Champlain Bridge are nothing to worry about.

The span connecting Crown Point with Addison, Vt., opened in November 2011, and the cracks were discovered during routine concrete testing soon after.

But Carol Breen, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Transportation Region 1, said they are not dangerous.

"There is superficial hairline concrete cracking, which routinely occurs on all newly poured concrete bridges. Such hairline cracks are normal and do not affect the safety or structural integrity of the bridge."

NO REPAIR NEEDED

The old Champlain Bridge, built in 1929, was demolished by controlled explosives in December 2009 after deep cracks were found in its concrete support pillars below the water line.

It was closed immediately upon that discovery on Oct. 16, 2009. The firm that designed the new bridge, HNTB of New York City, told the DOT the damage was too severe to repair.

But this time, the cracks are normal, Breen said, and are within allowed parameters.

"The cracking does not require repair or lane closures."

The cracks in the concrete support pillars can be seen with the naked eye and appear to be several feet long near the top of some pillars.

The new bridge cost $76 million, $6 million more than the initial $69.6 million bid by Flatiron Construction of Colorado. The new bridge uses a modified network tied-arch design, with cables running from the deck to the top of the arch.

HIGH PRAISE

Earlier this month, the new Champlain Bridge was honored by the Lake Placid-based Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, known as ROOST, with the 2011 Destination Product Award.

The award was presented to the New York State Department of Transportation and the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the agencies responsible for the new crossing.

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