Is construction on the new Champlain Bridge on track?
West Addison, Vermont - April 7, 2011
Construction of the Champlain Bridge will take more money, and could take more time, but residents at Thursday night's meeting did not leave discouraged.
Jack Anderson of West Addison said, "I visit the site a couple times a week. I am very interested in the construction. They really answered anything I could have thought of tonight."
Crystal Stoddard of Moriah agreed, "I did expect delays. Things happen when you have a major structure like this come down."
About 50 people attended the meeting to get an update on construction.
John Grady of the New York Department of Transportation estimated, "I am going to say we have about one-third of the steel up, and we are almost done with all of the concrete piers."
New York transportation officials say companies from both sides of the lake are contributing to the construction.
Grady said, "Both unions on both sides of the lake are sending labor to the project. Iron workers, carpenters, those kinds of folks. Our inspection staff comes from both sides of the lake. Most of the sub-contractors are New York based, but there is quite a list of suppliers from Vermont."
David Smith, sales manager at Amoskeag Woodwork said, "I think what happened was they realized they needed to get things moving along with the project."
Amoskeag Woodwork in Fairfax is one of those suppliers. The company got a contract with Champlain Bridge engineers at Flatiron to build concrete molds. Amoskeag usually focuses on cabinetry and mill work but this last minute contract is welcome work.
Smith said, "This building of the forearms is a very time consuming, detailed process and they were looking for someone how had the size and capacity to do the job."
Amoskeag took on a few extra employees to meet their six-week deadline. Other contractors were granted a 65-day work extension if needed-- because cleanup from the old bridge took longer than expected.
New York transportation officials added, "At the same time we have been accelerating other operations, and paying for that accelerated work to combat some of that time and get back on schedule."
And that extra time has put them over the bridge's original price tag of $69 million.
Grady said, "I would say we are going to be in the low 70s (millions of dollars)."
Residents say they want to see both sides step up to see this project through.
Crystal Stoddard said, "I think it is important that it is dealt with and handled by both sides. This bridge belongs to both New York State and Vermont."
The bridge is still slated to open on its originally planned date-- Oct 9-- barring any other setbacks. They do not expect any other cost increases, but officials say if there are any it would not stop construction.
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