"It's a New York project, but we need to get Vermont more involved," French said. "Two states should be able to get faster action than one. We need to get going."
HTNB Corporation of New York City has been selected as design consultant. Options include rehabilitation or replacement of the existing bridge.
The 80-year-old bridge accommodates approximately 3,400 vehicles each day.
The existing structure is a combination of a thru-truss, deck-truss and deck plate girders measuring 2,184 feet in length on 14 spans.
The bridge received a "yellow flag" from the state in 2007 indicating it was in need of repair. Repairs to the bridge were completed in late 2008, and included removing loose concrete, doweling reinforcement into existing concrete and pouring new concrete pier caps. The "yellow flag" designation has since been removed.
However, the bridge is now limited to one-way traffic while more repairs are made.
One of the first tasks the HTNB Corporation will complete is an evaluation of the existing structure to determine the feasibility of rehabilitating the bridge, including cost of the work and potential impacts to motorists, according to a DOT statement. All options will be identified and evaluated and public input will be solicited before progressing with a particular alternative.
The public advisory committee formed three years ago, consisting of representatives from New York and Vermont, will have a say in the final plans.
French serves on that committee. He expects a fight between preservation groups who want to save the historic bridge and others who want a new bridge.
"The preservationists will be the loudest," French said. "But it would be really nice to see a new bridge that would accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists."
The advisory committee hasn't met in more than a year, French said, but when it did discussions centered on a new bridge to be constructed just south of the existing span. The current bridge would remain open two years while the new one is built, French said.