For months, local organizations in both New York and Vermont have been planning quite the party to celebrate the opening of the new Lake Champlain Bridge, but due to construction delays, the champagne has been put on ice. Matt Hunter has more.
ESSEX COUNTY, N.Y. – On Wednesday, the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau announced its pushing back its two day bridge opening celebration from October 15th and 16th, all the way to the middle of May because of concerns the bridge may not be open on time.
In the release they sent out, they said the tough decision to delay the party is because the New York State Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the bridge construction, has removed the October 9th deadline from its website and has yet to provide anyone with a new completion deadline.
A short while ago, we spokes with DOT spokesperson Carol Breen over the phone and she says that DOT has not formally changed or delayed the deadline, however, they're working with the contractor, Flatiron Incorporated, to determine what, if any change needs to be made.
You'll remember that at the end of last year, DOT gave the contractor a 65 day extension of the contract after underwater debris delayed construction. Breen says that extension was given with the understanding that work would be accelerated and that the October 9th deadline would still be met. To make matters worse, Lake Champlain was hit with record floods this spring and that delayed construction even more.
Breen says while they don't have an exact answer yet, they should know soon if any changes to the schedule will be made and that just because the celebration has been delayed until May, people shouldn't take that to mean the bridge won't be opening until then.
The impact this bridge has on the community can't be understated. It's the only bridge going across the lake for about 50 miles, so people in both Vermont and New York rely on it on a daily basis and while the 24 hour ferry has certainly helped, people are very eagerly awaiting the opening of this new bridge.