Bridge construction to start soon

CROWN POINT - Work on a new Champlain Bridge is expected to start any day.

Crown Point Supervisor Bethany Kosmider expects the bridge to be complete and open to traffic by December of 2011.

"I'm optimistic, hopeful," she said after pre-construction meetings with state Department of Transportation officials May 12. "The eyes of the world are on them. I don't think they have much choice except to meet the deadline."

The contract to construct the new Champlain Bridge has been awarded to Flatiron Constructors of Lafayette, Colo. It was the low-bidder at $69.6 million, which is about $10 million under engineering estimates.

All necessary permits are in place for the construction, Kosmider said.

The 300-foot-wide bridge will be based on a modified network arch design and will include bike paths and pedestrian walkways on both sides.

Kosmider said she was impressed with Flatiron officials, although they didn't answer one of her primary questions.

"People want to know how they can get jobs working on the bridge," she said. "They didn't really answer that, although I'll keep pushing for an answer.

"People want jobs," Kosmider said. "Crown Point and the surrounding towns all need jobs."

The previous Champlain Bridge, built in 1929, was closed Oct. 16, 2009, because of cracks in concrete pillars. It was destroyed by explosive charges Dec. 28.

A temporary ferry is now running next to the site until the new bridge opens.

At a public information meeting in Addison, Vt., May 11, New York State Department of Transportation Regional Engineer John Grady said the middle arch section of the bridge will be constructed on barges - probably at the Van Slooten Harbour Marina in Port Henry - and floated in to be attached.

Grady said Flatiron will hire local subcontractors and material suppliers for the project. He said the firm has both union and open-shop work crews.

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