Charlotte Ferry Route Shuts Down

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(Host) Starting on Wednesday, there’s going to be one less option for getting across Lake Champlain.

One ferry route will close down. That will free up a boat for the new service that started at the site of the old Champlain Bridge.

VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports.

(Sneyd) Ice has formed on many of the narrower sections of Lake Champlain.

And that’s narrowed the options of the Lake Champlain Transportation Company’s boats.

Heather Stewart is in charge of the company’s operations.

(Stewart) "The ice on Lake Champlain has increased enough that we need to move boats before the ice is too thick and we can’t get them to our locations."

(Sneyd) The ferry company prefers to have at least two boats available at each crossing.

But it usually only runs ferries at two crossings in the winter – between Charlotte and Essex, New York, and on the busy route between Grand Isle and Plattsburgh.

It added a third winter operation this week when a ferry began crossing between Addison and Crown Point to replace the now-demolished Champlain Bridge.

Stewart says the company has run out of boats.

(Stewart) "What the challenge is now, I’m sitting here at the Burlington ferry office. And we’ve got some boats out front. But they’re not outfitted to run in ice. So we have more boats. But not during these heavy ice periods."

(Sneyd) Boats that cross at Grand Isle and now at Crown Point have reinforced hulls, stainless steel props and heavy-duty gears that can chew through the ice.

But there are only enough of those strong boats to make the crossing at the old bridge site and in Grand Isle.

And there’s a heavy demand at Crown Point. On opening day, 1,700 vehicles made that three-minute crossing. On a typical busy day in the winter, the Charlotte-Essex ferry carried about 150.

Lake Champlain Transportation will resume all of its ferry crossings in the summer.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd

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