(Host) The 80-year-old Champlain Bridge connecting West Addison Vermont, and Crown Point, New York, was brought down by controlled explosions this morning.
Crowds gathered to try to see the demolition through a heavy snowfall. It was likely the largest event in West Addison since the bridge opened in 1929.
VPR’s Melody Bodette was there:
(Bodette) It was all over in a matter of seconds.
The half-mile-long landmark fell as crowds of thousands gathered in both Vermont and New York. But views were largely obstructed by a heavy snowfall. The thousands of pounds of steel were brought down by 800 pounds of explosives, creating billows of smoke that mixed with snow to create a complete white out for most spectators. Some who ventured out to see the once-in-a-lifetime event were disappointed.
(Devries) "Nothing. It ‘s so snowy. We were far away. We couldn’t see anything."
(Bodette) Sam DeVries of Addison took his kids to see the event, and says he’s still glad they came.
Some just wanted a chance to say goodbye. Bill Blanchard of Bridport has lived within a half mile of the bridge for over a decade. He used shoe spikes to get a closer look at the demolition from the shoreline.
(Blanchard) "Very nice view but, you know it was so… visibility was so poor. And with the smoke, you really couldn’t see all that much. It was over in a flash. It was a lot of fun, a lot of people."
(Bodette) Others also tried to ignore the snow so they could witness the passing of an era.
Addison historian Red Clark was one of them. He started researching the bridge before it was closed in October when engineers deemed it unsafe. Clark says he has mixed feelings about the demolition.
(Clark) "It’s sort of of sad, but when you know the circumstances, that’s what had to happen. The most important thing is to get the new bridge up. (laughs) So many people really depend on it and it’s ruined their lives not having it."
(Host) Over 3,400 people used the bridge every day before it was closed. Construction has already begun on landings for a new ferry at the bridge site. And with the bridge gone, transportation officials hope to have it running soon. A new bridge is expected to be completed by summer 2011.
Within hours of the explosion, barges were already at work, pulling pieces of the bridge from the lake. And when the snowfall cleared, the piers were all that was left standing.
For VPR News, I’m Melody Bodette in West Addison.