Lake Champlain ice unsafe, officials warn

TICONDEROGA - The Vermont Agency of Transportation, the New York State Department of Transportation, the United States Coast Guard and the New York State Emergency Management Office are warning people that the ice surrounding the site of the Lake Champlain Bridge and near Ticonderoga will not be the same as in years past and that recreational activities in the area should be conducted with extreme caution.

The establishment of a new 24-hour ferry service between Chimney Point, Vt., and Crown Point will prevent ice from forming in the vicinity of the Lake Champlain Bridge. Ferries will move continuously from shore to shore to prevent ice from forming.

In addition, the Fort Ticonderoga cable ferry which runs between Shoreham, Vt., and Ticonderoga has installed bubblers and a thermal warming system to extend its operation into the winter months. Though the ferry is not operating, ice along the cable route will be minimal, if present at all.

No one knows exactly how far the ferry routes will affect the adjacent iced regions, but ferry traffic will certainly weaken the ice in those areas. The VTrans, NYSDOT, USCG, and SEMO are cautioning those who ice fish, operate snow mobiles, or drive all-terrain-vehicles that the ice around the bridge site and the Ticonderoga ferry is unsafe, even during stretches of extreme cold.

"The ferry service will alleviate much of the burden put on commuters when the Lake Champlain Bridge closed to all traffic on Oct. 16, but the ferries pose new risks to those who may try to cross the lake on their own once ice begins to form," said VTrans Secretary David Dill. "People need to understand that ice conditions near the bridge will no longer be normal."

With unstable ice conditions due to the ferry operations, state-to-state transit across the ice is even more dangerous this year. All persons are advised to stay off the ice and to keep clear of the ferry routes and Lake Champlain Bridge, which itself will be a construction zone as crews work all winter to remove debris from the 80-year-old structure so that a new bridge can be erected in its place.

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