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Visitors reflect on bridge arch raising

Horace Hyle, who drove over the original bridge shortly after it was built in 1929, spoke Aug. 26 with Ted Zoli, the chief engineer of HNTB Corp., who designed the new bridge.

Horace Hyle, who drove over the original bridge shortly after it was built in 1929, spoke Aug. 26 with Ted Zoli, the chief engineer of HNTB Corp., who designed the new bridge. Photo by Jon Hochschartner.

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Lake Champlain Arch Rising

Folks from all-over made the trip to Crown Point, NY to see the arch of the new Lake Champlain bridge raised into place. Some of the spectators took a moment to reflect on the history in the making.

Folks from all-over made the trip to Crown Point, NY to see the arch of the new Lake Champlain bridge raised into place. Some of the spectators took a moment to reflect on the history in the making.

— Government and corporate officials joined unaffiliated visitors the morning of Aug. 26 to witness history being made as the middle arch of the Lake Champlain bridge was ever-so-slowly lifted into place.

New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Executive Deputy Commissioner Stanley Gee said reaching this “major milestone” was very satisfying.

Gee said his agency had not yet selected an opening date for the bridge, though it would be sometime this year.

“We’re in a part of the state where weather is a major factor,” Gee said. “We’re concerned about frost. It could happen anytime after Labor Day around here.”

The free ferry service currently in operation will be discontinued once the bridge is open to traffic, Gee said.

John Grady, NYSDOT regional construction engineer, said the transfer of the arch to the bridge site went faster than expected.

“We got out of the slips where it was going to be a problem – we thought – much quicker than we expected,” Grady said, adding the arch moved at a maximum of one knot per hour, which is the equivalent of 1.15 miles per hour.

Grady said the arch would be lifted into place using a strand jack.

“It’s a heavy cable lifting system with hydraulic rams that lift it up in increments,” Grady said. “It will lift it up about an 18 inch throw. Then it will lower itself, and do it again.”

Ted Zoli, the chief engineer of HNTB Corp., who designed the bridge, said the arch weighs about 900 tons, though it will weigh more when the concrete decks are in place.

As the arch was being prepared for lifting, Zoli said he was not ready to celebrate, being “a little superstitious.”

Horace Hyle, 96, of Greenville, Mass., said when he was 14 he traveled over the old bridge a couple months after it opened.

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