Champlain Bridge Construction Schedule Gets 65-Day Adjustment

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(Host) The construction schedule for a new bridge across Lake Champlain has been adjusted by 65 days to reflect delays encountered late last year.

But New York transportation officials say the goal is still to have the bridge open by early October.

VPR’s Melody Bodette has more.

(Bodette) The construction company Flatiron is building the 70-million-dollar bridge connecting Crown Point, New York and West Addison, Vermont.

New York transportation spokesperson Carol Breen says crews ran into obstructions when they drilled footings for bridge piers in thick mud, deep underwater.

(Breen) "It’s very easy for things to sink down, where you wouldn’t know even if you use sonar that things are down there, when we’re trying to put a drilled shaft in 50 ft below ground level, there’s a lot of things that you can encounter."

(Bodette) Breen says the obstructions could have been debris from the 80-year-old bridge that was demolished in late 2009 after being deemed unsafe.

By now the underwater piers have been completed and the above water sections are starting to take shape. Flatiron is working with transportation officials to decide how to speed up work on the project. That could mean more equipment at the site, and potentially more money.

The weather has also caused delays. At times it’s been too windy to get cranes up. Second shift crews were also reduced at one point because bad conditions prevented workers from getting much done at night.

Flatiron is working on getting the permits it needs for a site in Port Henry, New York, where the steel archway will be built. Steel is being fabricated in Pennsylvania and will be shipped to New York to be assembled. It will be floated to the bridge site this summer.

Breen says the delays are not unusual for a construction project of this size:

(Breen) "Our goal is still to have this done in October, and we’re committed to working with the community and getting them a bridge, we’re trying as hard as we can. And I think the thing to do is be patient. We’ll work with the contractor."

(Bodette) The contract says if the bridge opens, late Flatiron will need to pay penalties.

For VPR News, I’m Melody Bodette.

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