New Lake Champlain BridgeVermont Bridges are falling down, falling down, falling down…Between the ravages of Hurricane Irene and the insult of Tropical Storm Lee, Vermont roadways have taken a beating.There were 166 road and bridge closures due to flooding; 450 miles of state highway were closed. Several covered bridges were damaged, one was almost washed away.

But there is some good news on the transportation horizon: the new Champlain Bridge is up! An historic and critical link between New York and Vermont at Crown Point, the bridge was initially opened in August of 1929. The opening ceremony was attended by the governors of New York and Vermont, 40,000 people, and a huge parade.

The Grand Reopening Celebration is slated for Saturday and Sunday, May 19-20, 2012. Event specifics will be announced in the spring by the Lake Champlain Bridge Community.

Construction of the new bridge is nearing completion. The aesthetic and structural focal point of the bridge, the arch span, was built off-site and towed by tugboats to the bridge location where it was lifted into place, 82 years to the day after the bridge’s original grand opening. The 900-ton, 402 foot long arch span was hoisted into place 75 feet over the water using stand jacks, a cable lifting system that uses hydraulic rams (cyclic water pumps) to slowly lift heavy loads. The lift took several hours and was attended by enthusiastic history buffs and picnickers from both sides of the Lake.

image credit: www.nysdot.gov