Committee recommends bridge design

CROWN POINT - We have a winner.

The Lake Champlain Bridge public advisory committee has endorsed a design for a new bridge to be constructed in Crown Point.

The panel selected "modified network tied arch" bridge, the same choice as area residents who attended a series of informational meetings in Ticonderoga Dec. 12.

At those meetings represents of the state Department of Transportation and Vermont Transportation Agency presented six alternatives for a new span.

It was a clear choice, according to Bethany Kosmider, Crown Point supervisor-elect and a member of the advisory committee.

"The majority of the people who filled out questionnaires approved it," she said. "It's a good choice."

The final selection will be made by the New York State DOT, although advisory committee members expect their recommendation to be followed.

"NYSDOT will ultimately decide on the final bridge design, but public preference and PAC recommendations will be a significant factor in our decision," Carol Breen, DOT spokeswoman, said.

A final decision is expected in January and a new bridge is expected to be open by summer 2011.

Th existing Lake Champlain Bridge, which was built in 1928 and closed in October because of structurally problems, is scheduled for demolition in a few weeks. An actual date has not been announced.

A network tied arch bridge features a basket-handle arch with a network cable arrangement. The concept was developed by Norwegian engineer Per Tveit in the 1950s. In the modified version that has been recommended, the basket handles, which are light blue in the conceptual drawings, extend down in an uneven triangle to the concrete piers and then back up. In the original version from which the modified version was developed, all the concrete piers extend all the way up to the bridge deck.

It is estimated this design will cost about $70 million to build. Some of the other proposals would cost about $80 million and the cheapest, a long-span steel girder bridge, would cost about $60 million.

The federal government is expected to pay 80 percent of the bridge cost, with the remainder split evenly between New York and Vermont.

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