CROWN POINT — Unlike cracks found in the old bridge, state officials say those found in the concrete of the new Champlain Bridge are nothing to worry about.
The span connecting Crown Point with Addison, Vt., opened in November 2011, and the cracks were discovered during routine concrete testing soon after.
But Carol Breen, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Transportation Region 1, said they are not dangerous.
"There is superficial hairline concrete cracking, which routinely occurs on all newly poured concrete bridges. Such hairline cracks are normal and do not affect the safety or structural integrity of the bridge."
NO REPAIR NEEDED
The old Champlain Bridge, built in 1929, was demolished by controlled explosives in December 2009 after deep cracks were found in its concrete support pillars below the water line.
It was closed immediately upon that discovery on Oct. 16, 2009. The firm that designed the new bridge, HNTB of New York City, told the DOT the damage was too severe to repair.
But this time, the cracks are normal, Breen said, and are within allowed parameters.
"The cracking does not require repair or lane closures."
The cracks in the concrete support pillars can be seen with the naked eye and appear to be several feet long near the top of some pillars.
The new bridge cost $76 million, $6 million more than the initial $69.6 million bid by Flatiron Construction of Colorado. The new bridge uses a modified network tied-arch design, with cables running from the deck to the top of the arch.
Earlier this month, the new Champlain Bridge was honored by the Lake Placid-based Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, known as ROOST, with the 2011 Destination Product Award.
The award was presented to the New York State Department of Transportation and the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the agencies responsible for the new crossing.
The Lake Champlain Visitors Center operated by the Regional Office is located next to the new bridge, where Marketing Manager Suzanne Maye said people have been bringing up the cracks in conversations.
"People have been coming in and asking if I've heard there are cracks in the bridge. I have had no official word on cracks, and that's what I've been telling them."
The Destination Product Award is given to an entity that has, according to its description, "through capital investment or public coordination, moved forward with a project that positively affects the tourism-related infrastructure in Essex County."
The recognition was given for securing the funding, facilitating the design and building the new bridge.
"On Oct. 16, 2009, the region was shocked by the sudden closure of the Lake Champlain Bridge," said Regional Tourism Board of Directors Chairman Justin Smith in a release. "This vital link had been in place since 1929, effectively merging the two states and the business community into one, seamless region."
He said that in addition to "causing inconveniences and economic challenges to residents on both sides of the lake, the loss of the bridge severed a link for travelers between New England and the Adirondacks."
About 3,400 vehicles a day cross the span over Lake Champlain, and for months after the old bridge closed, people had to make 100-mile detours through Whitehall or take limited-service ferries elsewhere on the lake.
In early 2010, a 24-hour ferry opened next to the bridge site to ease some of the pain. The states paid $16 million total for the ferry owned by Lake Champlain Transportation Co. of Burlington to run for free.
The official opening celebration for the new bridge is planned for May 19 and 20.
Email Lohr McKinstry at: firstname.lastname@example.org