Vt. bridges in the spotlight again after Minnesota disaster

Regarding the Lake Champlain Bridge that spans the lake narrows between Addison, Vt. and Crown Point, N.Y., both the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the Vermont Agency of Transportation are planning to either rehabilitate or replace the bridge starting in five years.

Construction work is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2012.

"In recognition of the historic and cultural significance of the bridgealso known as the Crown Point Bridgethe New York and Vermont transportation agencies are approaching a wide range of civic and business leaders to work with us in determining the best course of action for the bridges future," NYSDOT Regional Director Thomas Werner said in 2005. "The public advisory committee for the Crown Point Bridge project is essential in formulating plans for increasing safety and improving mobility crossing Lake Champlain."

The public advisory committee is eliciting input from both sides of the lake.

Built in 1929, the half-mile, two-lane bridge is jointly owned by New York and Vermont. It is showing nearly a century of age with advanced corrosion appearing in many places on the structure. The bridge has been closed several times due to damage caused by overloaded commercial trucks.

According to a NYSDOT news announcement, The Crown Point Bridge has historic design significance because it was built with half-a-through truss and half-a-deck truss, one of the few bridges in the nation with such a design. A truss is a type of bridge structure that uses structural components arranged in a series of triangles. Trusses have great load carrying capacity for their weight and allow the use of longer bridge spans.

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.

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