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The Bridges of Essex County

CROWN POINT In the wake of the the deadly bridge collapse in Minneapolis on Aug. 1, attention around the country is turning to other structures that may prove unsound.

One of the main causes of local concern is located in Crown Point. Built in 1929 the half-mile, two-lane Lake Champlain Bridge that spans the narrows between Addison, Vt. and Crown Point, is owned jointly by New York and Vermont. It is clearly showing its nearly a century of age, with advanced corrosion appearing in many spots on the structure. The bridge has been closed several times due to damage caused by overloaded commercial trucks.

The bridge is currently under consideration for replacement or rehabilitation by both the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the Vermont Agency of Transportation. Construction work is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2012.

We have not yet begun the scoping process for that project, and a great deal of information must be collected and evaluated before we will know wheth-er the bridge will be rehabilitated or replaced, said NYSDOT spokesman Peter Van Keuren.

The bridge was last repaired in 1991. Construction work at that time included painting, repairing pier exteriors, and replacing the bridges deck, joints and railings.

In light of last weeks Minneapolis bridge collapse, a spokesperson in the office of New York State Gov. Elliot Spitzer said engineers will begin a fresh inspection of the Lake Champlain Bridge this month. It is one of 49 state-owned spans in New York with similar structures to the I-35 deck truss bridge in Minnesota.

The Essex County board of supervisors, concerned about the safety of the structure, passed an unanimous resolution at their last full board meeting on Aug. 6 to encourage the project be placed on a fast track.

Crown Point Supervisor Dale French said a new structure was needed and soon. He said there were frequently heavy loads being taken across, and was concerned about the bridges structural integrity.

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