The bridge was one of the first continuous truss road bridges built in the nation, and exhibits characteristics of both a through truss and deck-truss design.
The bridge was initially tolled, however, the tolls were removed on Sept. 22, 1987.
The bridge was rehabilitated in 1991. Work performed at that time included the replacement of the deck and railings, the repainting of the steel trusses, and the repairing of the bridge piers.
During the mid-2000s, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) launched the planning process for a project that would result in either the rehabilitation or replacement of the Champlain Bridge. At the time, the projected start date for the project was 2012. However, in 2009, an inspection performed on the bridge as part of the planning process revealed that two of the bridge's support piers were not structurally sound. As a result, the bridge was closed to all traffic on Oct. 16, 2009.
NYSDOT Regional Structural Engineer Thomas Hoffman commented that "Under certain conditions we were afraid the bridge could fail abruptly."
Prior to the closing, the bridge had already been reduced to one lane for structural steel repairs. On Nov. 9, officials in Vermont and New York announced that the bridge was beyond repair and would have to be demolished. A new bridge span will be built in its place.
On Dec. 12, NYSDOT and VTrans presented six design concepts for the new structure, one of which, the Modified Network Tied Arch, has since been recommended as a replacement by the Public Advisory Committee.
The closure of the bridge caused economic hardship for commuters and local businesses as traffic was greatly reduced on both sides of the lake. Two businesses that saw more activity were private ferry services, one about 15 miles (24 km) south of the bridge has been overwhelmed, while the other service, located about 25 miles (40 km) north of the bridge, expanded its hours of operation. Even with expanded hours, and New York state subsidies, the two private ferry services were unable to meet demand.