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Brockport proposes a safer Smith Street bridge

by Panagiotis Argitis - Editor-In-Chief
Thu, Feb 21st 2019 01:35 pm

What may seem as a lesser part of a community can often be one of the most significant. Following initial discussions about a possible infrastructure update on Brockport’s Smith Street bridge area, a proposal toward a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) grant has given the project hope. The grant will ensure pedestrians, motorists and people with disabilities safe crossing over the 160 ft. long bridge. 

Built in 1910 and refurbished in 2011, the Smith Street bridge provides an overpass from the south side of the Erie Canal over to the north, connecting Clinton Street to Smith Street. The recent upgrade to the bridge consisted of new components. While they are still in excellent shape, not all parts of the construction were replaced.    

The foundation of the bridge, specifically the concrete wall that supports the approach of the bridge on Clinton Street along with the stairs that lead to the bridge, have suffered from wear and tear, which has created a dangerous situation for any type of use. Furthermore, the walking paths along the bridge end directly in the road and the absence of a traffic light results in hazardous trips over the structure for motorists and cyclists. 

To put an end to the safety concerns over the Smith Street bridge, the Village of Brockport has applied for a grant that will aid in reconstruction of the wall structure, a complete rebuild of the stairs leading up to the bridge and the placement of a traffic light as per Superintendent of Public Works at the village of Brockport Harry Donahue. 

The installation of a stop light can prove to be vital in future safety of use and overall maintenance of the bridge. According to brockportny.org, one of the most recent incident near the bridge resulted from a car accident which damaged the stairs on the south side of the bridge.  

In addition, the new project will also be disability-conscious as the plans include the fitting of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant sidewalks and crosswalks.

The proposed reconstruction would provide the solution to an issue that affects residents and commuters of Brockport on a daily basis. The opportunity to do so is one the village will not miss the advantage of.   

“We have been wanting to do this for years now,” Village of Brockport mayor Margaret Blackman said. “We are extremely happy for the [potential] ADA-compliant plans and the safety improvement to our town.” 

Despite being one of the smallest traffic bridges that crosses the Erie Canal, the Smith Street bridge is still traveled by a large sum of people throughout the day. Five different school bus routes, emergency vehicles, college professors and hundreds of residents use the bridge. 

Along with the constant use of the bridge, the area’s layout is prone to motor accidents, which also pose a threat to walking pedestrians and people who may use the staircase along the supporting wall. The proposal will look to eliminate the issue with a stoplight, which will operate through a magnetic strip on the foundation of the road surface. The strip will only engage with the presence of passing vehicles. This mechanism will allow safe traveling from both sides of the bridge while proposed crosswalks will ensure pedestrian safety. 

Provided that acceptance for the proposal is given, the construction plans will be carried out by the contracted town engineering firm MRB Group and are believed to take two to three years to complete. 

Despite the unknown state of the proposal decision, the support for the project has only increased as the days until a final statement grow. Along with Blackman, the town’s emergency services such as the fire district, police station, business owners and people who have gotten into accidents near the bridge have backed up the proposal. 

“We believe it’s a great proposal,” Blackman said. “The town has shown so much support and can only hope [it] gets the grant to be able to start the project.”    

The importance of the Smith Street bridge may be tough to spot at first glimpse but the site is an essential part of connection between businesses, schools and medical services. An infrastructure update to it will help solidify that connection and ensure safety for all who use it.