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Bridge opening in question

DOT uncertain when Champlain span will be ready

The arch of the new Champlain Bridge is being constructed in Port Henry and will be floated to the bridge site later this month.

The arch of the new Champlain Bridge is being constructed in Port Henry and will be floated to the bridge site later this month. Photo by Nancy Frasier.

— Will the new Champlain Bridge open as scheduled Oct. 9?

No one seems to know.

“We are currently in discussions with the contractor to see what impact the spring weather and flooding has had on construction and determine when the bridge will be opened to traffic,” said Carol Breen, senior public information officer with the New York State Department of Transportation.

She declined to offer an opening date.

DOT officials have insisted the bridge project is on schedule, despite granting the contractor a 65-day extension to its project schedule in March.

Flatiron Constructors of Lafayette, Colo., is building the span. It was the low-bidder at $69.6 million.

Flatiron is under contract to build the new span within 500 days of groundbreaking. The contract includes a provision requiring Flatiron to absorb the costs of the adjacent, temporary ferry service — about $30,000 a day — for every day beyond the 500-day limit. The contract also provides a financial incentive — up to $1.5 million — for Flatiron to complete the work in less than 500 days.

While the opening date seems uncertain, work is continuing. The structure is taking shape between Crown Point and Addison, Vt.

“In terms of construction, we have completed assembly of the center arch span and are installing support cables and lighting on the arch,” Breen said. “We are pouring concrete decks on both the Vermont and New York sides of the bridge.”

At the same time the bridge arch is being constructed on barges in Port Henry and will be floated to the structure later this month, Breen said.

“We’re planning to lift the arch into place late this month,” she said. “The process will take two days. First, the arch will be loaded onto barges at Valez Marine and floated down the lake to the bridge site. A safe zone will be established around the arch barges during the transport, but the lake will not be closed. The arch will then have to be connected to lifting cables. The actual lift will occur on the second day and is expected to take between 12 and 18 hours. The main navigational channel under the bridge will be closed during the lift.”

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