Big changes for Spencerport commuters in summer 2019

By on March 4, 2019
The Rt. 259 lift bridge in Spencerport will close in July for major repairs that are exected to take 15 months. Photo by Maggie Fitzgibbon

The Rt. 259 lift bridge in Spencerport will close in July for major repairs that are exected to take 15 months. Photo by Maggie Fitzgibbon

Those who travel through the Village of Spencerport crossing the Erie Canal Lift Bridge can expect big changes in their routes this summer. The 115-year-old lift bridge is set to undergo major repairs. This extensive work will begin in early July and will require the bridge to be closed for approximately 15 months.

Gary Penders, the Mayor of Spencerport, gave an overview of the work.

“All of the mechanical and electrical systems for operating this bridge, as well as the entire bridge undercarriage, will be replaced. Except for the cross members at the top of the bridge, everything will be replaced,” Penders said. “A second story will be added to the bridge tender tower to improve the line of sight for boats.”

The project comes as part of a New York State capital improvement project aimed at repairing 15 lift bridges that cross the Erie Canal, the New York State historic water system that stretches across 362 miles. The ages of these bridges necessitates the repairs in order to keep travelers safe.

“The bridge is deteriorating. Right now the weight limit for the lift bridge is only 12 ton,” Penders said. “That doesn’t facilitate usage by vehicles like fire equipment, and school buses. The village can’t even drive a garbage truck across the bridge. We have to take alternate routes.”

Once the bridgework is completed, the weight limit will be lifted and the bridge will not have any weight restrictions.

In order to accommodate the repairs, the lift bridge will remain in an upright position over the estimated 15-month repair schedule. This will not impact boat traffic on the canal. However, the closure will affect pedestrian, car, and truck routes into the village. The detour routes include the use of the Gillett Road Bridge and the Washington Street Lift Bridge.

The work to the Union Street Lift Bridge also includes roadwork to Union Street at both the north and south sides of the bridge to improve the angle of vehicle approaches.

“The intent is to eliminate the quick turn needed as you enter and exit the bridge. Union Street will widen at both the north and south sides of the bridge. Two parking spots will be eliminated on the west side of Union Street directly on the south side of the bridge. On the north side, street lights will need to be moved,” Penders explained. “After these changes are made, those entering and exiting the bridge will have better visibility to oncoming traffic.”

Jordan Guerrein, Public Information Officer for the NYSDOT, shared more details regarding the Union Street roadwork.

“The road work improvements will be alignment changes to improve approaches to the entrances and exits from the bridge. There will not be any alterations to the traffic flow. Once completed, the lift bridge will remain accessible for two-way traffic as well as pedestrians,” Guerrein said.

The Union Street Canal Lift Bridge project is part of the Lift Bridge Rehabilitation Project in Monroe County that also includes the lift bridge in Fairport. This project totals $16.25 million of the over $50 million designated to rehabilitate 15 Erie Canal lift bridges. Hohl Industrial Services from Buffalo has been awarded the contract for this project and will be completing the work on both the Spencerport and Fairport lift bridges. Incentives have been written into the contract to keep the project on time and possibly completed ahead of schedule.

“The DOT is responsible for maintaining all of the 110 canal bridges over the Erie Canal throughout New York state. The majority of these bridges are in this region, which includes Monroe, Orleans and Wayne counties,” Guerrein said. “It’s also important to note that the canal is a federally designated historic landmark, so we have to be mindful of that as we work to preserve these bridges.”

In order to prepare for this change in the village traffic pattern, the Martha Street Canal Bridge is currently undergoing work in order to support this increase in commuters. Crews from the Department of Transportation are completing this work and the Martha Street Bridge will reopen before the Union Street Lift Bridge closes.

“The Martha Street Bridge is not part of the official detour for the project but we anticipate those traveling to and from the village will use this bridge. We made some repairs to the bridge in early 2018 but we have DOT regional bridge maintenance teams making steel repairs and other needed work so the bridge can handle the increased traffic,” Guerrein said.

This work will increase the Martha Street bridge weight limit from 12 to 20 ton.

Village commuters can expect changes entering and exiting the Martha Street Bridge on Canal Road.

“In an effort to alleviate the current traffic bottleneck, two temporary traffic lights, east and westbound, will be installed on Canal Road by the Martha Street Bridge,” Penders said.

All of these changes will impact not only commuters but also the businesses located in the Village of Spencerport. Penders noted how he is working with the Spencerport Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as other businesses and organizations, to develop a plan to promote the village.

“We’ve had some preliminary meetings to discuss ways we can all work together to make sure that people understand that while the bridge is out of commission, the village remains a vibrant community with much to offer. It’s also important that people know that Canal Days, as well as all other summer events, will go on as planned,” Penders said.

In the coming months, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) will hold public meetings to present the repair project, show drawings, and explain the detour routes as well as the road reconstruction. These meeting dates will be publicized in the Suburban News.

The Martha Street bridge is currently undergoing repairs to support the increased traffic it will receive while the Union Street bridge is closed. Photo by Maggie Fitzgibbon

The Martha Street bridge is currently undergoing repairs to support the increased traffic it will receive while the Union Street bridge is closed. Photo by Maggie Fitzgibbon

Steel repairs are in progress on the Martha Street bridge. Photos by Ray Kuntz Jr.

Steel repairs are in progress on the Martha Street bridge. Photos by Ray Kuntz Jr.

Martha St DSC00171 (2) Kuntz

 Martha St DSC00170 (3) Kuntz