There’s a real crisis unfolding right now in upstate New York — one that state and federal authorities can do something about using stimulus money. The bridge over Lake Champlain at Crown Point, which was scheduled for repairs by 2013, has deteriorated to the point where officials suddenly stepped in this week and declared an emergency shutdown. This has stranded thousands of New Yorkers and Vermonters at home, and they face the prospect of not being able to get to work each day and losing their business. It’s a regional disaster.
I love the Champlain Valley and especially the whole Crown Point area, and I’ve been back and forth across the bridge many times. The bridge (which was featured in the movie What Lies Beneath) is an imposing white structure that dates from the 1920s, spanning the narrow lower reaches of Lake Champlain. Driving across state borders is usually a dull affair, but the long, high-sloped bridge makes the passage between New York and Vermont sort of magical.
Here is the best little diner in Vermont, just a stone’s throw from the bridge. Word is they’ve already had to lay off some of their employees.
I don’t want to live in a world without the Bridge to Vermont, but the citizens of the Champlain Valley can’t live without it. The nearest alternative crossing is the Ticonderoga ferry, ten miles away and outrageously expensive for daily use. Let’s hope the state and federal governments quickly get their act together and get a temporary bridge or ferry service available.
Updated: From the press release about the state emergency declaration from the governor’s office:
NYSDOT is designing repairs and developing a timeline for re-opening. A signed detour is in place that will divert motorists on U.S. Route 4 through Whitehall, New York, and on Vermont Route 22A and 17, a distance of about 100 miles.
That is just insane! Why was this bridge allowed to deteriorate?!