January 14, 2010

Bridge design chosen


CROWN POINT — New York and Vermont have now agreed that the new Champlain Bridge between Crown Point and Addison, Vt., should use a modified network tied-arch design.

The design-selection process had been reopened after Vermont representatives complained that no bridge selection meetings had been held in their state.

Following a hastily scheduled Jan. 4 public-information session in Vergennes, Vt., public input still overwhelmingly favored the modified network tied-arch design, which somewhat resembles the now-demolished Champlain Bridge.

The modified network tied-arch design is a steel structure with a basket-handle-type arch using network cables and box-tie girders supporting a composite deck.

Those who attended public meetings Dec. 12 in Ticonderoga also voted for the tied-arch bridge out of six possible designs presented.

The New York State Department of Transportation did not release figures on total number of votes but said 80 percent were in favor of the modified network tied-arch design.

The Champlain Bridge Public Advisory Committee, created by New York and Vermont to recommend bridge-replacement alternatives, voted for a modified network tied-arch bridge on Dec. 15.

“The selection of a design concept for the replacement of the Lake Champlain Bridge is a major step in restoring this critical connection between New York and Vermont,” Gov. David Paterson said in a release.

“New York and Vermont’s transportation agencies identified the modified network tied-arch design as the overwhelming favorite of the people who live near and depend on this vital link,” Paterson continued. “The next phase of design work will begin immediately as we continue our efforts to restore this important transportation connection.”

The Champlain Bridge was closed Oct. 16 after severe cracks were found in its concrete pillars. It was classified irreparable and destroyed by controlled explosions Dec. 28.

Design of a new bridge is slated for this winter, with construction to begin in the spring or early summer.

DOT has said a new bridge will be open in 2011.

Work on a temporary, 24-hour ferry next to the bridge site is continuing, with operations scheduled to begin by the end of this month. An Acrow modular ramp was set in place on the New York side Wednesday to be used as a ferry dock.

Vermont Gov. James Douglas also said in a release that his state wants the modified network tied-arch design.

“Both the public and our bridge engineers agree that the modified tied-arch is an outstanding and appropriate design to replace the historic Lake Champlain Bridge. The new bridge will fit easily into the historic surroundings and be a source of pride for residents of both states for years to come.”

The design must also be approved by the Federal Highway Administration, which will fund 80 percent of the cost of the new span. Construction costs are expected to be about $75 million.

The old bridge lasted 80 years, and the new span has a projected life of 75 years.

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