ALBANY — The New York State Department of Transportation has received the federal 2012 Transportation Planning Excellence Award for the project that replaced the Lake Champlain Bridge between Crown Point, and Addison, Vt.
The honor was bestowed jointly to New York and Vermont for the project, which was funded by both states and managed by DOT.
“The building of the new Lake Champlain Bridge was a historic process, one that illustrates government successfully pulling together in an innovative and efficient way to move an important safety project along quickly and to restore a critical transportation link between states,” DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald said in a news release.
“The fact that the Lake Champlain Bridge project was one of only eight awardees to be recognized for outstanding transportation planning shows that this project is unique not only to the communities it serves but stands out as a national model of excellence.”
The new Lake Champlain Bridge is a steel structure with an arch over the center span. Key bridge components are designed to be easily replaceable to reduce maintenance costs.
Travel lanes are 11 feet wide, with 5-foot shoulders that help accommodate larger trucks and farm vehicles, as well as provide ample room for bicyclists. Sidewalks are featured on both sides of the bridge.
The new bridge was built at the same location as the previous structure to minimize historic and environmental impacts on the surrounding area. The land adjacent to the bridge on both sides of the lake is historically sensitive, with Native American, French and Indian War and Revolutionary War artifacts buried deep along the shores of Lake Champlain.
Before construction, extensive public meetings were held to help determine what the community wanted from a new bridge, where to best locate it and what type of bridge should be built.
The old structure was demolished in December 2009, and construction began in June 2010.. New York and Vermont worked closely with the U.S. Department of Transportation and other federal and state agencies.
The project, which was initially expected to be completed by 2017, was finished in late 2011.
Nominations for the award were reviewed by an independent panel of judges, who selected winners based on community and public involvement, innovative approaches to completion, context-sensitive solutions to enhance the community and natural environment, collaboration with other public or private entities and long-term benefits of the project.
Nominees could be individuals or organizations that used federal funding to develop a plan, project or planning process that demonstrated excellence in planning. The $76 million Lake Champlain Bridge project was 80 percent federally funded.
The Transportation Planning Excellence Awards is a biennial program developed by the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration and co-sponsored by the American Planning Association and the Transportation Research Board.
Those who want to know more about the history that surrounds the new Champlain Bridge can take guided walking tours set for 1 p.m. on the last Sundays of July, August and September, led by state historic site managers Elsa Gilbertson of Chimney Point, Vt., and Thomas Hughes of Crown Point.
For this Sunday’s tour, the public should gather at the museum entrance at Crown Point State Historic Site. The fee is $5 for adults; free for children younger than15.
Over the centuries, this crossing has been used by woodlands Indians, the French, the British and Americans, Hughes said. The narrow channel passage for water vessels and the peninsulas, or points, on the east and west sides made it one of the most strategic military locations along Lake Champlain throughout the 1700s.
Other tours are Aug. 26, starting at Chimney Point Historic Site, and Sept. 30, starting at the Crown Point Historic Site, located next to the bridge at 21 Grandview Drive on the Crown Point peninsula.