|Lake Champlain Bridge Bi-State Park Is Proposed|
Lake Champlain Bridge Bi-State Park Is Proposed
by Bill Johnston, retired County Planning Director, Essex County, NY
(Image courtesy of NYSDOT web site)
The construction of the new Lake Champlain Bridge between Crown Point, New York and Chimney Point, Vermont presents an opportunity to treat the various historic sites and recreational facilities in the vicinity of the bridge as a “whole” rather than as a collection of individual parts. And the construction of the new bridge could be the catalyst to make this happen – to bring about the unification of the collection of historic sites and recreational facilities, together with the new bridge’s visual appeal and provision for safe use by bicyclists and pedestrians, creating what in essence would be a Lake Champlain Bridge Bi-State Park.
This is an opportunity because an award-winning designer will design the new Lake Champlain Bridge, and expectations are high that the new bridge will become a “must-see” sight in the Champlain Valley. With its safe pedestrian and bicycle facilities, the new bridge will link the two states in a way never before possible at this location, and simply walking or bicycling across the bridge is likely to become a significant attraction in itself.
In the vicinity of the bridge there are historic sites, museums, visitor centers, campgrounds, day use areas, an historic pier, the historic Champlain Memorial Lighthouse, Rodin sculpture, etc., owned by a variety of public agencies in two states. Currently there is no coordinated operation of these sites or over-all physical plan to tie them together. The construction of the new bridge presents an opportunity to rethink how these various sites relate to each other -- to think of these resources as whole, not as a scattering of discrete sites. The bridge and surrounding area can be thought of as a “campus” with a number of facilities that ought to work together with each other. The next step would be to create a “campus plan” and to bring together the various owners of the sites and other interested organizations to implement the plan. This idea has been informally discussed since December, and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.
The communities in the vicinity of the Lake Champlain Bridge need to capitalize on every opportunity for economic development. In New York, the town of Moriah and surrounding communities are faced with the prospect of losing a major employer (Moriah Shock) as a result of state budget cuts. Making the bridge a destination and tying in all the other sites will attract visitors and potentially give the nearby communities in this part of the Champlain Valley a much-needed economic boost.
This is the vision. An ad hoc, bi-state group had an initial meeting on February 19, 2010, and is now working on getting “buy-in” for this vision by local governments, interested organizations, the local business community, and state agencies. Broad-based support for this idea will go a long way towards making it a reality.
The Better World Club offers bicycle-only and car-and-bike membership, including insurance and free roadside assistance. Better World Club offers VBPC members a 10% discount on new membership. The VBPC receives a donation for every new sign-up.