Commuters feel betrayed

"They are forms that people can fill out to let New York and Vermont officials know what impact the bridge closure is having on their lives - commuting, medical, financial, etc.," explained Wendy Ingleston, clerk to the Crown Point supervisor. "We also now have impact statements for businesses available, too."

Service at the Ticonderoga Ferry has been extended to assist motorists. The ferry, which was scheduled to close for the season Oct. 31, will now stay open until Nov. 15 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

About 50 people rallied at the bridge Oct. 25, demonstrating their concerns.

"For most of us living on either side of the lake, our incomes provide only the essentials as we struggle to keep up with rising food and fuel cost," said Pastor David Hirtle of the First Congregational Church of Crown Point, who organized the rally. "And now, a tariff, as it were, in the form of a 100-mile detour or the added time and expense of a ferry trip."

Gov. David Paterson declared a state disaster emergency in Essex County and other areas affected by the closing of the Lake Champlain Bridge Oct. 21. That declaration is expected to assist the state in securing funds and permits needed to repair the span.

No timeline for repairs has been announced, although the state DOT had called a public meeting Oct. 28 at Moriah Central School to address the bridge closure.

Ticonderoga Supervior Bob Dedrick said the bridge closing will have a serious economic impact. He noted many people use the bridge to reach work and others to shop.

"People don't realize the financial impact this will have," Dedrick said. "Wal-Mart, Lowe's, International Paper - every business will be affected."

N.Y. Sen. Betty Little promised quick action by the state.

"If what the inspectors say is true about the condition of the bridge, a big tragedy may have been averted," the senator said. "Transportation officials told me the bridge needs to be shut down given the severe deterioration of two piers that were able to be inspected because the water level dropped.

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