Saving the Champlain Bridge

Thats the feeling of the Preservation League of New York State. The group visited the Crown Point state historic site, adjacent o the bridge that spans Lake Champlain, March 14 to announce the Champlain Bridge has been added to its Seven to Save list. The list identifies historic structures that may be in danger. The New York State Department of Transportation, which has responsibility for the bridge, has listed the span on its long-range replacement list. DOT officials have said they will consider repairing the Champlain Bridge and keeping it open instead of replacing it with a modern, flat-deck bridge. The Lake Champlain Bridge is a nationally significant engineering landmark, and the Preservation League opposes any plans to replace this span, said Jay DiLorenzo, president of the Preservation League of New York State. We welcome the opportunity to work with stakeholders on a solution that protects it. The bridge, 2,186 feet in length, opened to auto traffic traveling between the Adirondacks and Green Mountains in August 1929. At their press conference, Preservation League officials described the Champlain Bridge as one of the countrys most inventive and sophisticated designs for that period and the first American bridge to employ a continuous truss ... In addition to providing a link between New York and Vermont, the bridge is also an important regional landmark, they said. It is a beautiful and highly visible structure and its image is used in numerous tourism publications, other written materials, and regular television broadcasts. Rehabilitation is less costly than replacement, would minimize traffic disruption during reconstruction, and would honor New York States policies regarding management and preservation of its historic bridges, said Daniel Mackay, director of public policy for the Preservation League. Underscoring the bridges key role in the regional economy, New York and Vermont will have a once-in-a-century tourism opportunity in 2009, with the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial, said Steven Engelhart, executive director of Adirondack Architectural Heritage. The bridge and the adjacent Champlain Lighthouse will likely be key visual elements in the celebration, and could serve as a symbol of the areas vibrant tourism economy and high aspirations for historic preservation. Retired Essex County Planner William Johnston of Westport also supported efforts to save the bridge. The Preservation League pledged its support to identify strategies for dealing with the threats and opportunities the bridge is facing. We plan to continue working with local advocates in New York and Vermont, and elected and appointed officials so that this National Register-eligible span can be preserved and rehabilitated, said DiLorenzo. The entire Crown Point Reservation next to the bridge, including a 49-acre state campground, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.

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