The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) completed a critical task in the process reestablishing a critical transportation link between their states, by demolishing the 80-year-old Lake Champlain Bridge, thus paving the way for a new bridge that will sit in the footprint of the former one. As thousands watched in person, via the Internet and on television, New Yorkâ€™s blasting subcontractor, Advanced Explosives Demolition (AED), used some 500 pre-set high-tech linear-shaped explosive charges to cut through the steel at 17,000 feet per second, bringing down the 80-year-old span in less than ten seconds.
Following a burst of bright light and a nearly simultaneous boom of greater than 130 decibels, spans 4 through 9 â€“ or more than 80% of the bridge â€“ dropped into Lake Champlain. The fallen portions were quickly swallowed up by the icy lake. They, and the concrete piers that supported them, will be removed before next spring, along with the remainder ofthe bridge. The lake in that vicinity is to be open to navigational traffic in April.
â€œWe continue to move as quickly as possible to restore the vital connection between our states, and resume normal transportation acrossLake Champlain on behalf of those who live near and depend on it in their daily lives,â€ said New York Governor David A. Paterson. â€œThe bridge coming down weighs heavy on our hearts, but it is a critical task that is now completed. The former Lake Champlain Bridge, which served our states well since it opened in1929, had outlived its lifespan. Once the new bridge is built, we will have an even more majestic connection between our states, and the communities in the surrounding areas will benefit from a span that will be more modern, but will preserve the environmental and historical integrity of the area. â€
â€œIt was an honor to be a part of the effort today to bring down the old Lake Champlain Bridge. This is an important step in the processes of reestablishing this critical transportation link,â€ said Vermont Governor Jim Douglas. â€œWe want the new bridge in place as soon as possible, and todayâ€™s effort will ensure that we are ready to begin building a replacement bridge in the spring, when the weather permits. This collaborative project with our partners in New York will protect our treasured connection between Crown Point, New York, and Chimney Point, Vermont that has existed for centuries. â€
The former Lake Champlain Bridge had been ordered closed on October 16, 2009 when engineers who were in the process of repairing the upper portion of the span detected an exposed crack in one of the piers that had previously been submerged. Despite NYSDOTâ€™s rigorous inspection schedule which had shown underwater deterioration at the rate of about an inch every five years for some twenty years since New York and Vermont gained control ofthe bridge, from 2005 to 2008 an inexplicable 14 inches of additional deterioration had occurred, making the bridge unsafe and unstable.
The 2,184-foot-long bridge, also known as the Crown Point Bridge, was opened to traffic on Aug. 26, 1929 with a ribbon cutting ceremony conducted by New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt and Vermont Governor John E. Weeks. It was a toll bridge until 1987 when theLake Champlain Bridge Commission that operated it was abolished and ownership was transferred to New York and Vermont. On November 9, after the closure ofthe bridge and the conclusion of intensive testing, the two states announced that the investigation determined that it was not feasible to repair, and set the course for it demolition and construction of a new bridge in its place.