CROWN POINT - After more than 80 years of service to millions of motorists, the Lake Champlain Bridge was blasted into history Monday morning.
The nation's first long-span continuous truss bridge met its demise Monday as 2.2 million tons of steel and asphalt fell into the lake, surrounded by a billowing cloud of dark smoke.
Closed to traffic Oct. 16 after structural problems were discovered, the Champlain Bridge was demolished Monday - with about 500 simultaneous explosive charges - to make way for a new span.
But although two viewing areas were set up by state officials for the public to view the historic demolition event, hundreds of would-be spectators were frustrated Monday because the bridge implosion was obscured by falling snow and dense fog.
Downstate resident Steve Demming was one of the hundreds who traveled from afar to see the implosion, but missed seeing the blast - although he was standing less than a mile from the bridge - because of the weather. Moments after the blast, he was unaware the bridge had been blown up and fallen into the lake until media representatives announced it had just happened.
"I didn't see it, I didn't hear it," Demming said. "It should have been a big red flash in the air, but I didn't see anything."
Denton Publications employee Nancy Frasier, however, did witness and record the blast. She was standing in a nearer spot - at the Crown Point Historic Site - reserved for media photographers.
"After all these years to see it come down like that was sad," Frasier said.
Construction of a new bridge is planned to start in the spring with completion targeted for summer 2011.
A new ferry service is being readied near the former bridge in Crown Point to serve motorists while a new structure is engineered and constructed. The Ticonderoga ferry is also running with the help of anti-ice measures.