Saturday, November 19, 2011

Books: The Loss of the Lake Champlain Bridge

In The Loss of the Lake Champlain Bridge: A Traveler’s Story, Jean Arleen Breed uses poetry and color photographs to chronicle the human story of struggle and the efforts to survive amidst the loss of a vital transportation link between New York State and Vermont.

After the tragic collapse of a Minneapolis bridge in August 2007 killed 13 people, inspections of infrastructure were begun across the country. The bridge connecting Crown Point, New York to Addison, Vermont was found to be deteriorating.

Two years later, it was discovered that the process had accelerated, causing transportation officials to reduce traffic on the bridge to a single lane while the necessary repairs were made to ensure the public’s safety.

In early October 2009, it was announced that the repairs would be completed within a week. But at the end of that week came the stunning announcement: the bridge was unsafe and was immediately closed to all traffic until further notice.

The closure deeply affected thousands of citizens who used the bridge daily to reach jobs and to gain access to health care facilities, grocery stores, and other necessities. Severely restricted traffic flow led to the closure of businesses on both sides of the lake and crippled tourism, a critical source of revenue in the Lake Champlain Corridor.

Several battles ensued over the funding; how to help those who were most affected by the closing; whether or not to replace the bridge; and the creation of a temporary substitute passage across the lake to save citizens from a daily detour of 100 miles.

Among those forced to use alternative routes was Jean Arleen Breed, who recorded the story in verse. The supportive efforts of “The Corridor Poet,” as she came to be known, were appreciated by citizens and politicians alike.

The book covers the wide range of emotions suffered by friends, neighbors, and families as they faced extreme difficulties.

The book is published by Almanack contributor Lawrence Gooley’s Bloated Toe Publishing. Purchases can be made here.

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