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Lake Champlain Bridge to open Nov. 7

Ribbon-cutting ceremony will precede opening of span

Standing next to the Essex County Visitors Center at Crown Point, a father and son watch Flatiron Construction workers build the Lake Champlain Bridge on Sunday, Oct. 9, the day the bridge was originally slated to open. Due to delays, the bridge is now expected to open Monday, Nov. 7.

Standing next to the Essex County Visitors Center at Crown Point, a father and son watch Flatiron Construction workers build the Lake Champlain Bridge on Sunday, Oct. 9, the day the bridge was originally slated to open. Due to delays, the bridge is now expected to open Monday, Nov. 7. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— Earlier this year, DOT and Flatiron officials had publicized an opening date of Oct. 9 for the span, and the Lake Champlain Bridge Community (LCBC) — representing interests in New York and Vermont — set a weekend-long celebration for Oct. 15-16. After record-breaking floods on Lake Champlain delayed construction in April and May, the DOT gave Flatiron a 65-day extension to finish the bridge. By mid-August, the DOT had backed off its Oct. 9 opening, and the LCBC’s celebration was postponed until May 19-20, 2012. Since August, the DOT has been reluctant to set a official opening date.

One reason? Mother Nature. While the work is going smoothly now, the construction is “dependent on the weather,” Breen said. Flatiron’s 65-day extension runs out on Tuesday, Dec. 13. Now the company will be finished five weeks ahead of the current deadline. There is an incentive clause in Flatiron’s construction agreement that gives the company $30,000 a day for every day it finishes the bridge ahead of time. Likewise, Flatiron would have been charged $30,000 a day for every day it finished the bridge past the deadline.

As for the free, 24-hour ferry service currently provided between New York and Vermont next to the bridge site, Breen said the Lake Champlain Transportation Company will be required to close those operations as soon as vehicles are allowed to cross the bridge. The ferry service was designed to be temporary.

Within a day of the bridge opening, Flatiron workers will begin removing the New York ferry landing, which was set up to begin transporting motorists between the states on Feb. 1, 2010. The water infrastructure will be removed this year, and the land infrastructure — including the ferry road — will be removed in the spring, according to Breen.

“We have to restore everything to the way it was before the project,” Breen said, explaining that DOT officials try to be sensitive, in cases like this, where there are significant archeological and historic sites.

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