Ferry's first voyage a success

ADDISON - The free, 24-hour temporary ferry between Crown Point and Addison is now open. Gov. Jim Douglas joined hands with New York State Department of Transportation's Stanley Gee to take part in the maiden voyage of the ferry and to welcome passengers.

The Vermont ferry slip is located just south of the site of the future Lake Champlain Bridge. The New York slip is located south of the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse.

The M.V. Cumberland ferry, under the command of Capt. Steve Pond, blew its inaugural whistle at 5 a.m. Feb. 1 as morning commuters were eager to put the ponderous and costly Essex-Charlotte ferry crossing behind them.

"Since the bridge closed, New York's Department of Transportation and Vermont's Agency of Transportation have worked tirelessly to reconnect our States and reestablish commerce throughout this corridor. Now that the ferry is open, we look forward to building the new signature Lake Champlain Bridge in the footprint of the former one," said Gov. David A. Paterson.

According to reports, there is a two axle, 15-ton weight limit for vehicles. The rule may be increased to 40 tons and multiple axles but there's no commitment from either state.

"This new ferry will run continually until a new bridge is constructed, and its 24-hour service will allow residents and businesses from both states to begin to return to something very close to normal," Douglas said.

The ferry is operated by the Lake Champlain Transportation Company and taxpayers of both states are paying for the costly, albeit "free", 24-7 service.

The ferry shoves off from the Vermont slip on the hour and half-hour. On the New York side, the vessel leaves on the quarter hour and three-quarter hour. The crossing takes 15-20 minutes.

"We don't expect rough water in this part of the lake," said Capt. Steve Pond. "But it is shallow on both sides of the lake. We had to use the props to blow sone of the bottom silt out of the New York slip."

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