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Commuting ... at a snail's pace

LAKE CHAMPLAIN - Micheala Martin sat in an endless line of rush hour traffic last week, nervously drumming her fingers on the steering wheel.

The Crown Point ferry - her ride home - was nowhere in sight.

"This is ridiculous," she said after stepping out of her car to talk about her daily commute. "I am half an hour late picking up my little girl at day care."

Martin, who lives in Bristol and travels to and from work in Plattsburgh, said she routinely waits an hour or more to cross the lake where the Lake Champlain Bridge once stood.

Summer traffic has compounded the holdup, she said.

Work has begun to replace the bridge and a new crossing is expected to be open in about a year - but for commuters like Martin, that can't come soon enough.

"It is impossible to plan or stick to a work schedule," she complained, leaning against her car. "One day you zip right across, the next you wait an hour and a half."

A few minutes later, the line moved a few hundred yards, transforming again to a parking lot for another 15 minutes as the two ferries crossed paths from one side to the other.

Crown Point Supervisor Bethany Kosmider said she empathizes with motorists, and said she has fielded a number of calls from commuters upset at the wait in Crown Point and Chimney Point, Vt.

"I know it is frustrating," she said. "What I am hearing is that it wasn't that bad until summer hit. Now the wait can be substantial, especially during rush hour."

Lake Champlain Transit (LCT) currently operates two ferries at the site of the former bridge, but there are slips built to accommodate up to four.

Kosmider said she plans to ask LCT officials about adding a third ferry - at least during peak traffic times like 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.

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