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Local businesses hurt by bridge closing

ADDISON - Businesses such as the Bridge Restaurant and the West Addison General Store are just two examples of several Addison County businesses that are being affected negatively by the closing of the Lake Champlain Bridge.

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 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.

At Gov. Jim 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.

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

Secretary Dave Dill and his team at VTrans will work through the weekend to study possible bridge repairs, as well as a range of alternatives, including new and expanded vehicle and pedestrian ferry options.

Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie toured the bridge with VTrans officials on Wednesday and participated in the conference call today.

"As a former Goodrich employee, and after my conversations this week with the many Vermonters whose livelihoods have been impacted by this unfortunate situation, I know first hand the importance of the Champlain Bridge to the economic and social well-being and safety of Addison County," Dubie noted. "I appreciate the hard work being done to assist those who have been affected by the bridge closure. I'll continue to work closely with the governor's team as we work to address the breadth of challenges that this disruption has caused."

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