Lower Water Level Aids Lake Champlain Work

Fri July 15, 2011 - Northeast Edition

WEST ADDISON, Vt. (AP) The dropping water level on Lake Champlain is making it easier for construction crews working to build the new bridge between Vermont and New York.

The archway for the new bridge is being assembled at a marina in Port Henry, N.Y., but the work stalled on the archway early last month because of the record flooding on the lake. The high water also made it difficult to get supplies to the bridge, New York State Transportation Engineer John Grady told Vermont Public Radio.

“We did lose our causeways, our access points on both sides, the more critical one the New York causeway is where we receive deliveries of materials, we were able to raise the elevation of that causeway by adding additional stone,” he said.

The bridge’s concrete substructures are complete, and the steel approach spans are being put in place. On the Vermont side, the steel beams are being prepared for concrete decking.

The old bridge linking the two states failed in the fall of 2009. The old bridge was demolished in late 2009 and work began last year on the $70 million replacement bridge.

There have been delays due to technical problems and the harsh winter, which preceded the spring flooding. But the target date for opening the bridge is still Oct. 9.

Grady said the contractor is working to speed up the project.

“Both with the obstructions during our underwater work, with the severe winter with high winds and unfortunately as everyone knows with the terrible flooding conditions that Champlain experienced this year, we’re doing everything we can to overcome those,” Grady said.