Champlain Bridge Construction Could Start By End of Month

05/12/10 7:34AM By Melody Bodette

(Host) Construction of a new bridge across Lake Champlain could begin by the end of the month.

Debris from the demolished Crown Point Bridge has largely been cleared from the site. John Grady of the New York State Department of Transportation says the 4 million pounds of steel from the bridge was taken by barge to Port Henry, New York and processed:

(Grady) The contractor pretty much segregated it because there's two types of steel, the floor steel and the structural steel. It was all cut or processed into small pieces. It was loaded on trucks and hauled to a variety of salvage yards where we receive the salvage credit to use to offset the cost of the project.

(Host) Transportation officials say as soon as the construction contract is formally awarded, work can begin.

The $ 69 million contract is likely to go to the low bidder, Flatiron Constructors of Colorado. That firm has built many landmark bridges, and also worked to replace the collapsed Interstate 35 Bridge in Minneapolis.

The company says most of the labor will be hired locally and they'll try to use local material suppliers when possible.

Officials hope to hold open houses and guided tours of the construction as it happens. The public will also be able to follow the action via a web cam. But Grady says there won't be much to see at first:

(Grady) This summer's not going to be exciting bridge work. We're going to be doing mostly substructures. We're going to be putting deep foundations in the water. We're going to be putting six foot shafts down to rock. You won't see a lot above the water, you'll see a lot of equipment a lot of people, but the work will be underwater. 

(Host) The bridge is expected to be completed by the end of next summer.

A free, 24-hour ferry will continue to run at the site until the bridge is complete. Then a separate contract will be awarded to remove ferry docks and restore the site. The ferry company says they've hired 75 new employees to help commuters cross the lake.

At a meeting last night, some expressed concerns about the closure of a fishing access and boat launch below the demolished bridge. But officials say it's just not safe to open the area to the public.

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