Fairport leaders stay positive as lift bridge enters repairs

September 04, 2019 07:27 PM

FAIRPORT, N.Y. (WHEC)- Fairport leaders promised the least disruption possible as the village’s historic Main Street lift bridge over the Erie Canal shut down for renovations.

“We want everyone to know that the Village of Fairport is open for business,” said Mayor Julie Domaratz during ceremonies in Fairport to start the project.

On Wednesday morning, the bridge was raised into its “up” position, where it will stay for 15 months of work.  

“This really is a once in a generation type of project for us,” said Todd Westhuis with the New York State Department of Transportation. “The Main Street lift bridge is one of the most recognizable canal structures that we have statewide.”

“It’s one of a kind,” said Kevin Cannan, the DOT’s engineer in charge of the project. “It’s so unique that it could be considered artwork.”

The $16 million project to refurbish the bridge includes replacing the deck and the steel girders supporting it; the cables and wheels that lift the bridge; as well as the mechanism’s motor and its massive underground counterweights, each weighing 300,000 lbs.

The process was intended to end with the bridge outwardly looking unchanged, which was how local leaders and businesses hope to keep life in Fairport during the project.   

“We’re planning on nothing changing here in the village of Fairport,” said John Pierri, owner of The Landing Bar and Grill.   

His business sits on a normally busy stretch of Main Street just south of the bridge that has been abruptly converted into a cul-de-sac by the bridge closing, but Pieri remains hopeful his establishment could ride out the change as it had during a previous, albeit shorter, bridge repair project.  

 "When they did it about 6–8 years ago, it really didn't have a huge impact,” he said.

“You know, we’re going to take things one day at a time, see how things go. And if we need to change, then we’ll change“

During Wednesday’s launch, the village highlighted its new "Fairport on the Rise" trail. Blue gears were painted on the pavement and new spirals of lights were on lampposts, marking the way for pedestrians to get around on the nearby Parker Street bridge, just east of the Main Street bridge.

Local officials also planned to inaugurate a new shuttle bus service around the closed bridge. 
Playing off Fairport’s designation as an “electric vehicle model community” by the New York State Power Authority (NYPA), the village entered into a contract to buy a new six seat electric vehicle from golf cart maker Moto Electric Vehicles.  

Thanks to the “model” designation, NYPA agreed to pay half the $20,000 cost of the vehicle, tentatively dubbed “The Bridge Lift.”  The shuttle’s exact route and schedule have not yet been established, and it has not yet arrived.

Domartz predicted a year of intensified activity to promote Fairport as a destination while locals and visitors dealt with the change. 

“While the bridge is closed, none of Fairport is closed,” she said.  “We want people to come here to the village, maybe take a pause out of their very busy schedule to park a car, walk around, explore the village of Fairport. 


Charles Molineaux

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