Essex County reroutes public transportation to shuttle ferry-goers

Those who rely on Essex County Public Transportation to get between Ausable and Lake Placid may need to check the schedule as county officials have canceled some of the regular routes in order to provide greater service to towns affected by the closure of the Crown Point Bridge.

On Monday, the Essex County Board of Supervisors Ways and Means Committee unanimously passed a resolution authorizing county Transportation Coordinator Nancy Dougal to reroute the busses to the towns of Westport, Moriah and Port Henry to shuttle residents to the ferry crossings throughout the Lake Champlain region.

Dougal said that currently only the 7 a.m. and the 3 p.m. buses from Ausable to Lake Placid has been canceled in the effort.

"I did call the employers. They have made arrangements for the employees to get back to work," Dougal said. "They were more than cooperative."

The county transportation that runs from Ausable and Jay is one of the primary modes of transportation for the hospitality work force in Lake Placid.

Dougal said that several more Champlain region shuttles are in the works.

"We have the shuttle for the foot ferry up and running now. We had 12 passengers this morning. Everyone said they were waiting to see how it worked, which is ok, we will probably have more tomorrow," she said. "By Wednesday I hope to have a route from the end of the Crown Point road, with several park and rides to the bridge ferry."

Numerous officials have expressed concern that the ferries will not be adequate in the winter after the lake freezes.

But according to Essex County Manager Dan Palmer, ice shouldn't be a problem for most of the ferries.

"If you keep the ferries running, they break the ice - at least the bigger ones," Palmer said. "The one at the Ticonderoga crossing, when the ice comes, that will have to close."

Palmer said that a larger ferry at the state dock in Port Henry is in the planning phases. But the heavy ice in the section of the lake has to be addressed.

"Apparently there is some heavy ice in that area and the operator is concerned about damage," Palmer said. "The state will have to work something out with him I guess."

About 1,200 Essex County residents rely on the bridge for their daily commute to jobs in Vermont.

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