New no-wake zone for Lake Champlain bridge build

LAKE CHAMPLAIN, VERMONT & N.Y. – The Coast Guard has established a no-wake zone that is effective from May 7, 2010, until December 31, 2011, during the construction of a new bridge over Lake Champlain connecting Crown Point, New York, and Chimney Point, Vermont.

Until now, the Coast Guard had been enforcing a safety zone that excluded all vessel traffic from the area. Now that debris removal from the old bridge is complete, the Coast Guard is suspending enforcement of the safety zone and allowing boaters to transit the area at no-wake speed.

Hazardous operations involving heavy equipment and frequent diver surveys continue in preparation for the new bridge construction. The no-wake zone is intended to minimize the risk a vessel’s wake could pose to both construction workers and boat operators in the area.

“Safety is our first priority,” said Coast Guard Senior Chief Louis Coleman, the officer in charge at Coast Guard Station Burlington. “With the construction area changing on a daily basis, it’s impossible for all of the hazards to be captured through broadcasts or on charts. Mariners need to slow down for their own safety, as well as the safety of the construction workers.”

A five-knot speed limit will be enforced in a regulated navigation area that stretches 300 yards to the north and south of the bridge construction zone. The area is bound by four, white and orange-striped “NO WAKE” buoys.

Additional navigation aids have also been installed to facilitate safe passage through the construction zone. Red and green lighted buoys now mark the channel within the regulated area, and the four remaining concrete piers from the old bridge are marked by warning signs and solid amber lights. Despite these safety measures, boaters are reminded to use extreme caution when passing through the area.

The New York State Department of Transportation estimates that there will be two days during the final phase of construction when the area will need to be completely closed to vessel traffic while the center bridge span is lifted into place.

In addition, the Coast Guard may close this area to all traffic for any circumstance that poses an imminent threat to boaters operating in the area. The Coast Guard will give as much advance notice as possible before closing the construction zone to vessels. Notice will be made by broadcast notice’s to mariners on VHF-radio channel 16 and 22, and will include the date and time of the closure as well as the date and time that normal vessel traffic is expected to resume.

The public can obtain information about the regulated navigation area by contacting the Coast Guard Sector Northern New England Command Center staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (207) 767-0303, or by checking the Local Notice to Mariners online at http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/lnm/D1/.

To view the regulation online, go to http://www.regulations.gov/ and click on the “Read Comments” box, which will then become highlighted in blue. In the “Keyword” box insert “USCG-2010-0176” and click “Search.” Click the “Open Docket Folder” in the “Actions” column.

Additionally, public comments can be submitted at http://www.regulations.gov/ by clicking on the “Submit a Comment” box, which will then become highlighted in blue. In the “Document Type” drop down menu select “Proposed Rule” and insert “USCG-2010-0176” in the “Keyword” box. Click “Search” then click on the balloon shape in the “Actions” column.

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