The Design of New Bridge Between New York and Vermont Discussed in Public

New Yorkers and Vermonters affected by the closure of the Lake Champlain Bridge linking the two states got the opportunity Saturday to see six possible designs for a new span and to share their opinions about them.

The designs were put on display at a series of meetings in Ticonderoga, about 10 miles south of the bridge linking Crown Point, N.Y., and Addison, Vt. People were asked to fill out a survey seeking their opinions on the various bridge designs.

Some residents said they preferred one of two arch designs because of their similarities to the existing bridge. According to an opinion an arch bridge would fit in better with the rural setting.

Also among the designs were two flat bridges and two that featured elaborate cables linked to towers.

The bridge was closed Oct. 16 after being found to be unsafe because of severe deterioration of its concrete piers. Closing the 2,184-foot bridge, used by about 3,400 vehicles a day, has disrupted lives on both sides of the border, forcing motorists to take 100-mile detours or ride ferries to reach jobs or medical appointments.

Transportation officials from both states and engineers from HNTB, the Kansas City-based firm that will design the new bridge, gave a Power Point presentation of the six possible designs, then were available to members of the public who filled Ticonderoga's town hall for the meetings.

A public advisory committee comprised of elected officials, business owners and local leaders from both states is scheduled to meet Tuesday and give its design recommendation to New York and Vermont's state transportation commissioners. The public has until Jan. 11 to submit comments on the project.

New York and Vermont officials will make their choice soon after, and then HNTB's design team will get to work, with the goal of starting construction in the spring and opening the new bridge in the summer of 2011, said James Boni, the bridge project manager for New York state's Department of Transportation.

Boni said the new bridge will cost between $65 million and $90 million, depending the design chosen. The new span also will have two lanes, but with wider shoulders to accommodate bicyclists. Sidewalks for the new bridge also are planned.

The old bridge, opened in 1929, will be demolished with explosives, most likely in mid-January, Boni said.

Meanwhile, work continues on construction of a temporary ferry service next to the bridge. DOT officials said they're hoping to have the ferry operating by late January.

Saturday's public meetings included a request for suggestions on how to commemorate the old bridge. Ideas range from developing a Web site on the bridge's history to salvaging old pieces of the span for public display.

In the meantime, people on both sides of the closed bridge have been taking photographs of the span that has been a part of life in the region for 80 years.

The Boston Globe has contributed to the report.

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