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Designs Considered for New N.Y.-Vt. Bridge

Fri December 18, 2009 - Northeast Edition

TICONDEROGA, N.Y. (AP) New Yorkers and Vermonters affected by the closure of the Lake Champlain Bridge linking the two states got the opportunity Dec. 12 to see six possible designs for a new span and to submit their opinions about them.

The designs were put on display at a series of meetings in Ticonderoga, approximately 10 miles south of the bridge linking Crown Point, N.Y., and Addison, Vt. People were asked to fill out a survey seeking their opinions on the various bridge designs.

Some residents said they preferred one of two arch designs because of their similarities to the existing bridge. Cathy Robarts, a retired social services worker, said an arch bridge would fit in better with the rural setting.

“This is the country,’’ Robarts said. “They look more like mountains. The others remind me more of what you’d see in the city.’’

Also among the designs were two flat bridges and two that featured elaborate cables linked to towers.

“I’m willing to accept what they come up with as long as they use the input they got here. Give us some say,’’ said Tom Jaquish, a retired construction worker from Moriah, N.Y., who attended the morning session with his brother Fred, an IBM engineer from Addison.

The bridge was closed Oct. 16 after being found to be unsafe because of severe deterioration of its concrete piers. Closing the 2,184-ft. bridge, used by approximately 3,400 vehicles a day, has disrupted lives on both sides of the border, forcing motorists to take 100-mi. detours or ride ferries to reach jobs or medical appointments.

“I don’t expect them to just get over it. Their entire lives have been disrupted,’’ said Diane Lanpher, a Vermont state representative from Addison.

Transportation officials from both states and engineers from HNTB, the Kansas City-based firm that will design the new bridge, gave a Power Point presentation of the six possible designs, then were available to members of the public who filled Ticonderoga’s town hall for the meetings.

The public has until Jan. 11 to submit comments on the project.

New York and Vermont officials will make their choice soon after, and then HNTB’s design team will get to work, with the goal of starting construction in the spring and opening the new bridge in the summer of 2011, said James Boni, the bridge project manager for New York state’s Department of Transportation.

Boni said the new bridge will cost between $65 million and $90 million, depending the design chosen. The new span also will have two lanes, but with wider shoulders to accommodate bicyclists. Sidewalks for the new bridge also are planned.

The old bridge, opened in 1929, will be demolished with explosives, most likely in mid-January, Boni said.

“I’ve been telling people to go down and say goodbye,’’ Lanpher said.

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