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New Champlain bridge still two years away

CROWN POINT - Construction of a new bridge across Lake Champlain in Crown Point will cost $67 million and take 22 months to complete.

Those are the estimates of state Department of Transportation engineers.

The bridge was closed Oct. 16 after severe cracks and erosion were discovered in its concrete pillars.

DOT's report on the span said the bridge could be permanently repaired at a cost of $84 million with the work taking about 30 months. The report says short-term repairs to the bridge would cost $22 million and could be done in nine months but would extend its life by only five years.

State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Stanley Gee announced Nov. 16 that the bridge will be torn down and replaced with a new bridge. He declined to give a timetable for the work.

The Lake Champlain Bridge is 80 years old. The report said the life span for such bridges is 75 years.

"Given these inherent risks to rehabilitation options, we must recommend against rehabilitation options and believe they should be dismissed from further study," the report said. "The risk and safety for personnel working in close proximity to the existing, fragile bridge is too great to permit rehabilitation in any form."

While a new bridge is being constructed DOT is planning a ferry service just south of the existing span for motorists. Engineers hope to have the ferry working by year's end.

Two ferries would be employed at the same time, running 24 hours a day, each able to carry 60 vehicles, including commuter cars, farm vehicles and tractor-trailer trucks.

"We are working around the clock to establish an additional year-round ferry service near the existing bridge and are working with the federal government and Vermont to build a new bridge in Crown Point so that life in this corridor can return to normal as quickly as possible," New York Gov. David Paterson said.

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