Businesses on Brockport’s Main Street will be negatively affected when construction on the village’s main lift bridge begins in 2021, but village officials believe that the downtown businesses will adapt to the changes well.
The Main Street lift bridge has been in service for over 100 years and its age is showing. Steel plates covering large holes, rust and a failing lift mechanism are just some of the issues the New York State (NYS) Canal Corporation and the NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) plan to fix during the extensive 2021 renovation.
For businesses in the heart of downtown Brockport, this will mean slowed business and less foot traffic. One such business is the Lift Bridge Book Store, where owner, Sara Bonczyk, expressed concern towards the construction project.
“It will have an impact on business,” said Bonczyk.
Adding that she has seen how other lengthy canal bridge reconstruction projects have impacted small businesses before.
In 2006, the Adams Basin lift bridge was closed for repairs, which took over a year to reopen for motor vehicle traffic. Bonczyk said that one Adams Basin resident had to close their shop because of the bridge closure. She feared this may also happen to a Brockport small business.
While village businesses are worried, town officials believe this construction will let them do stuff they have not been able to do before.
Village of Brockport Mayor Margaret Blackman has begun brainstorming activities and programs that will engage downtown Brockport during the closure of the Main Street bridge.
“We may be able to create some kind of closed space for festivals or a market,” said Blackman.
Part of Main Street, directly next to the bridge could be blocked off, creating a pedestrian-only zone. This would increase the number of shoppers on foot, without cars adding to the congestion
Village Councilwoman, Anne Crane was also vocal about the planned closure.
“It’s similar to when they closed and renovated Main Street years back,” said Crane.
Ten years ago, there was a week-long closure of Main Street and the lift bridge for sewer repairs. During this closure, the Park Avenue lift bridge acted as the detour over the canal. For the upcoming project, Mayor Blackman said the aging Park Avenue bridge will again act as the detour, but not without getting some repairs first.
“In order to handle the increase in traffic, the state will be doing repairs to that bridge before [the Main Street project],” said Blackman.
The Park Avenue bridge will receive reinforcements from the NYS DOT before receiving the increase of cars and heavy vehicles from the detour. The bridge recently had its max weight lowered from 16 to 14 tons on Jan. 29, 2019, according to the NYS DOT website. In December 2014, the DOT closed the bridge for four months after they considered it unsafe for travel.
The lift bridges in Brockport, Albion, Spencerport and Fairport are all on the renovation list. These bridge repairs come at a time when the state is going through a major rehab of its bridges.
Fairport’s closure will begin first, starting Sept. 2019. The initial start date of July 2019 was postponed after Fairport residents feared that detours over two summers would harm local businesses.
Mayor Blackman said that the village will closely watch the impact the Fairport Bridge project has on their residents and businesses.
“We can look at them and see how this closure affects their people, before it is happening to us,” said Blackman.
Village of Brockport residents and officials will be closely watching how the NYS Canal Corporation and NYS DOT handle these much-needed bridge renovations before they come to Brockport.