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Officials: Floods won't delay new bridge opening

CROWN POINT - Historic flooding along Lake Champlain will not delay the scheduled opening of the Lake Champlain Bridge linking Crown Point and Chimney Point, Vt.

On April 28, Lake Champlain reached 102.2 feet, beating the record of 101.86 feet set in 1993. Flood level is 100 feet. By May 5, the lake level had reached 103.1 feet, raising concerns about the Lake Champlain bridge construction.

"The record flooding of Lake Champlain is not expected to significantly impact construction of the new Lake Champlain Bridge," Carol Breen, senior public information officer for New York State Department of Transportation Region 1, said on May 5.

"Work right now is focused on setting steel, which is being done from barges on the lake," Breen explained. "As the lake water rises, the barges rise with them and work can continue."

The bridge superstructure will be built at Valez Marina in Port Henry and, when finished, be floated down the lake to the bridge site, where it will be lifted into place by cranes.

"Valez Marine, the site where the steel arch for the bridge will be built, is flooded at this time," Breen said. "Contractor work to build a support structure on which to build the arch has ceased until flood waters recede, but at this time we do not expect significant long-term schedule impacts.

"We will continue to evaluate the situation as it progresses," Breen said. "Our goal is still to have the bridge open to traffic in October."

The new Lake Champlain Bridge is scheduled to open Oct. 9, 2011 - despite a 65-day extension to its project schedule granted by the state DOT to contractor Flatiron Construction in March.

Flatiron Construction encountered underwater remnants of the old Champlain Bridge. That debris hampered Flatiron's ability to drill shafts for the substructure of the new span. In addition, winter weather conditions slowed work, causing Flatiron to ask for the extension.

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