CROWN POINT, N.Y. – The center arch span for the new Lake Champlain Bridge arrived by barge Friday and was being hoisted into place, another step in relinking New York and Vermont over the lake’s southern end.

The 402-foot, 1.8 million-pound arch began its journey on two barges around 6 a.m. Friday from its construction site at a marina in Port Henry on the lake’s western shore. Two tug boats pushed the barges two miles across the lake and delivered the arch to the bridge site by 8 a.m.

Crews then positioned the arch so it could be lifted into place using pairs of cable hoists mounted on each end of the uncompleted bridge. William Reynolds, spokesman for the New York state Department of Transportation, said the lifting, a four- to six-hour job, started early Friday afternoon.

The arch is the last major section of the 2,100-foot-long bridge to be installed.

“The arch will be secured into place by the end of today,” Reynolds said Friday by phone from the bridge construction site, 100 miles north of Albany.

DOT officials had originally said the new $70 million bridge would be open by early October, but they’ve since backed off on an opening date after spring flooding along the Lake Champlain shoreline caused construction delays. Reynolds said the bridge will definitely be open by the end of this year, most likely sometime in the fall.

About 250 people gathered along the lakeshore in Crown Point to watch the eight-story-tall arch make its way slowly across the lake to the southern narrows separating New York and Vermont.

The original bridge linking Crown Point and Addison, Vt., was demolished in December 2009 after inspectors deemed the 80-year-old span unsafe. The new bridge will connect the same two communities.

Lisa Cloutier, owner of a restaurant just off the Vermont end of the bridge, has managed to keep her place open despite the span’s closure and all the construction activity outside her front door. The arch’s arrival Friday filled her Bridge Restaurant with customers, preventing her from getting outside to get a look at all the fuss.

“Right now, I’m going nuts in my kitchen, but I’m pretty happy,” she told The Associated Press over the phone. “I haven’t seen the arch because I haven’t been able to get past my kitchen, but that’s good.”

The arch arrived at the bridge site on the 82nd anniversary of the original bridge’s opening.