By Nick Agostinelli
Brockport, NY- There is something unique about the villages and towns along the Erie Canal. Many of them have tourist sites, many have activities along the canal and most have interesting bridges.
The village of Brockport is more unique than most other villages along the canal. Brockport has a 104 year-old lift bridge that is the village’s iconic landmark. Over the last 100 years, the bridge has gone through many changes and renovations. Today, the bridge is in need of repair.
The Main Street lift bridge sits just above the legendary Erie Canal that links the streams of Lake Erie, in the west, to the Hudson River, in the east.
Brockport Mayor Margaret Blackman wants to make sure the bridge stands for many years to come.
“Originally, construction for the project was going to begin in 2020, but has since been pushed back to 2021,” says Blackman. “The New York State Canal Corporation and Department of Transportation will head the project.” Blackman says she feels that this project is long overdue.
The lift bridge, was created in 1915 and has since had minor improvements made to it. Rust is now visible all around it. Presently, Mayor Blackman says that it is in need of repair.
Blackman explained that the Main Street bridge last had mechanisms put in place in the 1990s. “The cement retaining wall on the bridge is a mess,” says Blackman. “There are plans for a new one to be put in place and for an ADA compliant side-walk to be put on the neighboring High Bridge.”
Blackman has been communicating with Fairport’s Mayor Julie Domaratz who is working on improving the bridges in her village. Domaratz is working with focus groups to fine tune the project and construction is expected to begin later this year. Fairport is being used as a model for later projects in Brockport, Albion and Spencerport.
During construction, the mayor will work with the DOT to reroute traffic to Park Avenue and the High Bridge nearby to try to keep the flow of traffic moving at a steady pace.
“We will be putting in three cross walks and a stop light triggered by oncoming traffic,” says Blackman. She explained that these new improvements should all keep drivers safer.
The Main Street Bridge’s construction will not only affect residents, but also businesses in the Village. The Lift Bridge Bookstore is one of the businesses that will be chiefly affected.
Bookstore owner, Sarah Bonczyk is apprehensive about the project, as similar projects have driven people out of business.
“I see customers travel by car, boat and foot,” says Bonczyk. “The construction project will definitely affect business.”
Brockport Village Board member Annie Crane says that the bridge construction will take a significant amount of time. “The Main Street Bridge construction will take up to one year,” says Crane. This has proven to be a problem for local businesses in the past.
She recalls an instance when construction has shut down a small business in the area. “Adam’s Basin, a farmers market goods store was shut down while the Park Avenue bridge was closed,” says Crane.
There are big plans for this area and the mayor has received a great amount of support from village residents who are looking forward to more improvements in the future.
The mayor and her team are working to fix problems now, so that this bridge will continue to stand as the iconic landmark for the village of Brockport for many years to come.