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Local businesses hurt by bridge closing

ADDISON - It's not just Goodrich Aerospace and Porter Medical Center that are being affected by the closing of the Lake Champlain Bridge. Small businesses, like the Bridge Restaurant and the West Addison General Store, are are being affected negatively, too.

Even local farmers are beginning to feel the pain of facing either a 100-mile overland detour or a crowded trip on a hastily assembled ferry flotilla. In some cases, ferries may not be able to accommodate certain heavy equipment.

In the week since New York Department of Transportation officials deemed the Champlain Bridge connecting Chimney Point, Vermont to Crown Point, New York unsafe for vehicle or pedestrian traffic, federal, state and local officials have been hard at work pinpointing and addressing the wide-range of challenges created by the bridge closure.

Gov. Jim Douglas spoke with his staff via conference call from Seoul, South Korea to hear the latest update on the situation. At Douglas' direction, members of his cabinet have been coordinating efforts to ensure the needs of Vermonters, beyond the immediate transportation crisis, are being adequately addressed.

"This is certainly our top transportation priority but I want to ensure the people of Vermont that we are doing all we can across state government to assist those affected by this terrible situation," said Douglas.

"That is why I have asked members of my administration from the Agency of Commerce, Agency of Agriculture, Vermont Emergency Management and others to determine what programs and services are needed and available in the short, medium and long terms to help those affected at this difficult time. It's also why we're working so closely with the members of our Congressional delegation to ensure we're exploring all options available, at every level of government."

The administration's chief focus is developing options for near-term solutions to the bridge closure.

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