A bridge too far-gone?

The existing structure is a combination of a through-truss, deck-truss and deck plate girders measuring 2,184 feet in length on 14 spans.

Vermont State Rep. Chris Bray (D), whose legislative district includes the Vermont side of the bridge, said he has been kept up-to-date on the recent agreement.

When asled how many local residents use the bridge daily, Bray said, "As I have heard, there are quite few Middlebury College and Agrimark employees who commute from New York (via the bridge)."

Officials of each state said they recognize the significance of the bridge-but there is no certainty that the classic 1920s structure will remain after 2013.

"The agreement requires the states to consider all reasonable alternatives to rehabilitate or replace the bridge, including replacement of the bridge with a ferry," according to James C. Boni, project manager with the New York State Department of Transportation.

The least appealing option, at least to some local residents and commuters, is a speculative ferry boat option. The distance at the bridge site is short and daily commuter costs, as well as delays in queing for a vessel, would likely make this the least appealing option among local residents. An added ferry toll-or even a bridge toll-might be seen as a step back, not an improvement. Many local commuters and shoppers travel between both states via the current bridge.

"In reference to tolling a bridge alternative, it is my understanding that, at an absolute minimum, a statutory authority and an additional agreement between New York and Vermont would be required. Tolling the bridge may also have implications on funding the project with federal funds. Therefore, while tolling a bridge is not completely out of the question, it is probably unlikely," Boni said. "Otherwise the two states risk jeopardizing the federal funding associated with the project-this project is currently funded 80 percent federal, 10 percent New York and 10 percent Vermont."

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