N.Y., Vt. Say Crown Point Bridge Has To Be Demolished

11/09/09 3:08PM By Nina Keck
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AP Photo/Toby Talbot

(Host) The Crown Point Bridge has deteriorated so badly that it will have to be demolished.

Divers and engineers have been examining the bridge since it was closed last month to determine whether its damaged piers could be repaired.

They concluded that work crews would be in danger of the bridge collapsing if they tried to shore it up.

Today, Vermont and New York transportation officials committed to rebuilding the bridge, although they can't say when that will happen.

In the meantime, the states are looking for alternatives to carry the 3,500 vehicles that once crossed the bridge each day.

VPR's Nina Keck reports.

(Keck)  Steve Kayhart and his brother Tim own a thousand acres of land less than a mile from the Crown Point Bridge in Addison, Vermont.   Their dairy farm also includes 700 acres across the lake in New York, where Tim Kayhart says they've got 180 animals.  

(Tim Kayhart)  "What was a 5-minute job turns into a half a day job. Once a week, twice a week.  You're constantly running the risk of something happening over there that's unforeseen equipment breaking down or cows going into labor.  The unrest and stress that it's causing us is unbelievable."  

(Keck)  The Kayharts have been using the Fort Ticonderoga Ferry but that will shut down when the lake freezes.  The Kayharts and many other commuters say they're not sure what's going to happen then.  

John Zicconi, of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, says they've been working as fast as possible to remedy that.

(Zicconi)  "The quickest thing people can expect is a new ferry service at the bridge location itself.  About 1,000 feet south of the bridge connecting the roadways in New York and Vermont." 

(Keck)  Zicconi says the permit process is complicated because land on either side of the bridge is historic.  The state of New York has archeologists surveying the shore area proposed for the ferry dock on their side to ensure no culturally sensitive areas would be disturbed by construction.  Zicconi says crews on both sides have also begun taking soil samples to aid in design of the docks.    

(Zicconi)  "We're working to clear all the approval hurdles, permits both state and federal, and also doing the design at the same time.  So as soon as we get the approvals we can start construction."

(Keck)  Initially there was concern about running a boat too close to the weakened bridge.  But John Zicconi of Vermont's Agency of Transportation, says the free ferry service will be far enough south of the bridge to be safe.  

He says the two boats they plan to use can cut through ice, carry trucks and farm equipment and should be able to accommodate all the commuters that had previously used the bridge.  The only things not certain at this point - whether the ferry will run 24 hours-a-day and when exactly it will start.   

For VPR News, I'm Nina Keck.

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