CROWN POINT - The construction of a new Lake Champlain Bridge is much more than an engineering project.
"This is a critical link between two states," Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas said at a ground breaking ceremony marking the start of construction June 11. "Those who live and work in the area surrounding the Lake Champlain Bridge share family, friends and business relationships on both sides of the lake. The ease and timeliness of transportation across Lake Champlain is critical to their way of life and economy."
Douglas was joined by New York Gov. David Paterson and a host of federal, state and local officials at the ceremony at the base of the former bridge in Crown Point.
"Breaking ground on the new Lake Champlain Bridge is an important step in reconnecting our two states and restoring this critical link for commerce, tourism, employment, education and medical services," Paterson said. "I am proud to have worked closely with Gov. Douglas to expedite this project, and commend the elected officials, community members and respective transportation officials for their efforts to work together toward a solution."
All the dignitaries expressed relief a new bridge is being built and heaped praise on Paterson and Douglas for their leadership.
"I have attended many groundbreakings and can't think of one of greater importance to constituents I represent," state Sen. Betty Little said. "Since the bridge's closure, our local communities, families and businesses have been managing through a sort of triage to deal with the loss of this vital link. Today marks the first step on the path to full recovery."
Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward of New York and Vermont Rep. Diane Lanpher echoed those comments.
"As a representative I've had the privilege to serve my community during a time of crisis," Lanpher said. "We have sat with both Vermonters and New Yorkers alike. We have visited homes and businesses. I want you to know your voices have been heard."