Champlain bridge on schedule

CROWNPOINT-The new Champlain Bridge is on schedule, according to the New York State Department of Transportation.

That's despite the fact DOThas granted the contractor a 65-day extension to its project schedule.

"The bridge is still on schedule overall, and the department has not changed its planned bridge opening date of Oct. 9, 2011," said Deborah Sturm Rausch, DOTcommunications director.

"As with any major construction project, unanticipated conditions and issues may be encountered that impact the work schedule," she said. "The work to install the drilled shaft substructures was delayed due to unanticipated underwater obstructions. The impacts of these substructure delays have been analyzed and that part of the project schedule has been adjusted by 65 days.

"The contractor and the department are exploring opportunities to accelerate other critical work to mitigate the impacts of the substructure delays," Rausch said. "The intent of this acceleration will be to maintain the department's goal of having the bridge open to traffic by Oct. 9, 2011."

Flatiron Construction, which is building the new span, has encountered underwater remnants of the old Champlain Bridge. That debris has hampered Flatiron's ability to drill shafts for the substructure of the new span. In addition, winter weather conditions have slowed work, Rausch explained.

Diane Lanpher, Vermont state represetative, met with construction and state officials recently. She said the debris from the old bridge has been a problem.

"After 3 million pounds of steel from our previous bridge fell on Dec. 28, 2009, when the bridge was demolished, the workers could not recover all that steel, due to the depth of the lake bottom soil, which hid some of the steel from detection," Lanpher said. "These steel pieces became a significant problem when the drilling of pier #5 began, and caused delays and damaged equipment. Further, pier #3 required a concrete re-pour when the first attempt did not meet standards. Both of these things added to some delay last summer. Thankfully, the costs associated with these unexpected problems all fell within the contract's margin of error."

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