Crown Point Bridge Closes Indefinitely
10/16/09 3:44PM By Ross Sneyd  Download MP3
(Host) Travelers between the New York and Vermont sides of Lake Champlain face a major detour with the sudden closure of the Crown Point Bridge.
VPR's Ross Sneyd reports.
(Sneyd) Almost 4,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day. Except for a couple of ferry crossings, it's the only route across southern Lake Champlain between New York and Vermont.
New York transportation inspectors have been keeping a close watch on the condition of the 80-year-old bridge. It's scheduled for a major rehab or even replacement by 2013.
With a drop in the level of Lake Champlain they were able to get a closer look this week at the piers that hold up the historic span. John Zicconi of the Vermont Transportation Agency says the engineers didn't like what they found.
(Zicconi) "The concrete on one of the piers is significantly eroding. ... It's in bad enough condition that they felt having the traffic on the bridge was not a wise idea."
(Sneyd) Transportation officials have been trying to prepare for when they have to close the bridge for construction.
So the sudden shutdown came as a surprise. Zicconi says no one knows for sure when the span might reopen.
(Zicconi) "They're assessing what kind of repairs might be able to be done. Right now the bridge is closed and it's going to remain indefinitely. I won't pussyfoot this one: It could be closed all winter."
(Sneyd) Detours have been set up on both sides of the lake. Drivers can head south to U.S. Route 4 between Fair Haven, Vt., and Whitehall, N.Y. Or they can use ferry crossings between Shoreham, Vt., and Ticonderoga, N.Y., or between Charlotte, Vt., and Essex, N.Y.
For VPR News, I'm Ross Sneyd.