Grand Isle, VT – Construction officially wrapped up earlier this week for the North Hero-Grand Isle drawbridge, as the new bridge is now open to both lanes of traffic.

Since April of 2018, people driving on U.S. Route 2 through the Champlain Islands have had to go over a temporary drawbridge, or half of the new one, while it was still being built.

Officials with Vermont’s Agency of Transportation say the islands have their main vein back now that the bridge is completed.

“U.S. Route 2 is a lifeline to the islands. It’s the main road that goes all the way through the islands from Colchester all the way up into Alburgh,” said Drawbridge Project Manager Todd Sumner.

Even on the days when construction caused delays the last few years, this was still the fastest route between the islands. Officials say that makes the end of construction important for everyone living or working in the islands.

“The detour for those residents on the, on both sides, whether you’re trying to go north or south right, is a 75-mile detour,” said VTrans Structure Project Manager Carolyn Cota.

“It affects emergency services. It’s going to affect people getting their fuel delivery and stuff like that. It’s a very big popular tourist destination, so not having thru-traffic in there hurts them on an economic level, service level and everything level,” said Sumner.

The only delays drivers will see now is when the new drawbridge opens up for boats. It’ll open for boats once every half hour, and workers at the bridge say that’ll happen anywhere between 20 and 30 times per day on weekends. However, they say there are some days during the week where they don’t have to open it at all.

“If there are no boats there at 8:00 or 8:30, nine o’clock, noon time, we do not open the bridge,” said Cota.

Workers say the new bridge opens and closes much faster than the old one. It takes about 90 seconds for both sides to open and let boats through, and another 90 to swing back down, making the whole process no more than five or six minutes on average.