As in most villages, Main Street is crucial to the success of businesses in Fairport. What makes Fairport different from other villages is that to get from one side of Main Street to the other, you have to cross a lift bridge over the Erie Canal.
The New York State Department of Transportation plans to rehabilitate the lift bridge, which will require closing it for 13-15 months. That’s a long time for the traffic to and from Main Street businesses to be disrupted, but even worse was the original timing of the closure.
The DOT planned to close the bridge the week of July 8, 2019 and keep it closed through August 2020. That would have meant two consecutive summer seasons—the busiest time for those Main Street businesses—with traffic difficulties.
Community members complained about the plan, and the DOT did the sensible thing and changed it. The plan now calls for the bridge to close no earlier than Sept. 3, 2019. That means the businesses and festivals that call Main Street in Fairport home will only be affected for one summer, rather than two.
There’s nothing to be done about having to close the bridge for more than a year. It needs to be rehabilitated, and that’s how long the rehabilitation will take. But DOT could do something to lessen the impact on the Fairport community and its businesses as much as possible, and it’s heartening to see that officials listened to complaints and responded appropriately.
Small businesses face a multitude of pressures in their quest to succeed long term. Construction—and its impact on traffic patterns—is one of the many issues that they can’t always do anything about. While the bridge’s closure will still be painful for Main Street Fairport businesses, those businesses are surely breathing a sigh of relief now that the start of the work has been delayed by at least two months.