By Graciella Dressler
In the next few months, you may notice that something has separated the northern and southern parts of the village, and no, it’s not the Erie Canal.
Starting in mid-May, Brockport’s Main Street Lift Bridge will be closed for 18 months of construction. The New York State Department of Transportation and New York Canal Corporation wanted to start construction in 2022 but due to some delays the project was pushed back several times.
In addition to the Main St. Bridge repairs, a seasonal maintenance inspection found damage to the Park Avenue Bridge’s lifting mechanism. On March 27, the Park Avenue Bridge closed for six weeks of repairs. Once those repairs are completed, the construction of the Main St. Bridge will begin.
Brockport community members created a committee to oversee “Bridging Brockport” to ensure there is smooth transition during the disruption to Brockport life.
Brockport Mayor Margaret Blackman is co-chair of the “Bridging Brockport” committee.
“[Our goal] is to make it as painless as possible for residents and to continue attracting people to the village,” Blackman said.
During construction, the historic bridge will be replaced entirely, replicating the original look.
“If you go and stand on the Main Street Bridge or anywhere near it, you’ll hear cars going over it. Then you hear the horrible clanking of those metal plates. That’s just one reason it’s being redone. The whole decking of the bridge must be replaced,” Blackman said.
The Custom House Bar and Grille will live stream the construction once it begins.
“They start by taking the decking apart, and then the last thing to do is remove the big side rails or the trusses. It requires a huge crane because those things weigh an enormous amount. They have been disconnected and transferred to the grassy area on the north side of the canal,” Blackman said.
Kevin Manna owns The Custom House Bar and Grille, which sits next to the Main Street Bridge entrance and overlooks the Erie Canal.
“My wife and I have a lot of apprehension about it. It’s the fear of the unknown. We just don’t know how many people aren’t going to come across the bridge. Everyone is just doing about all they can do. I just think that no matter what, it is a wait-and-see game for the few businesses that are going to be completely blocked off by [the construction area],” Manna said.
There will be signs placed downtown about parking areas in addition to the small parking lot behind the strip of building on Main Street available to the public. All businesses along Main Street will remain open, in addition, sidewalks will be available to pedestrians to get in and out of downtown.
SUNY Brockport sophomore Bria Melrose uses the Main St. Bridge to commute from Hilton to Brockport every morning for classes and her job.
“I have taken the same route to the college for the past two years. Learning about this disruption to my daily route was a little intimidating. I work and go to school in Brockport, so I am worried I will have a longer route to get to those places. I am probably just worried about the one bridge that is a single lane with no stop signs,” Melrose said.
In an effort to ease the concerns of Brockport drivers, the committee has created smaller committees (marketing/event/vehicle traffic) to help move “Bridging Brockport” along.
“One of the big questions about the Smith Street Bridge is that it is a one-lane bridge, and the line of sight is terrible. So, we are putting up a stoplight there for each direction, and people were very happy about that,” Blackman said.
One of the critical components of “Bridging Brockport” was keeping open communication with the residents and businesses in Brockport.
“I just mailed out 83 letters the day before yesterday to all the residents on Park Avenue and Fayette Street. That’s going to be where the main thoroughfare for traffic coming into the village and going north,” Blackman said.
The MyBrockport Village app was created as an additional aid for concerned citizens.
As the construction starts up, the app will update users about possible project changes, and allow residents to get in touch with the committee with any concerns or questions.
1 thought on “Bridging Brockport”
Graciella, nice piece, helpful visuals and good quotes from people affected by the upcoming closing. Thanks too for advertising the My Brockport app. Just one little correction. The NYS DOT has wanted to start construction in the fall of 2022 (not 2021).