New pedestrian walkway over canal will be a bridge to the future

Posted 19 March 2021 at 7:39 am

This rendering of a new pedestrian bridge over the Erie Canal in Brockport, a span that will connect the Brockport State College campus to the Empire State Trail.


The Village of Brockport is a focal point of the State’s $300 million Reimagine the Canals initiative, as the site of a new multi-functional pedestrian bridge connecting the village and SUNY Brockport across the Erie Canal.

This is the first large-scale infrastructure project to begin under the Reimagine program. Constructed next to the early 20th century guard gate that controls water flow in the Canal, the bridge will link the south side of the Canal at SUNY Brockport to the Empire State Trail on the north (village) side.

That connection is important, and not just to the college and village. The Empire State Trail is a tremendous resource for outdoor recreation — hiking, running, biking, kayaking, fishing — for locals and visitors alike.

The bridge provides the stimulus for the completion of the “Brockport Loop,” a joint college/village endeavor to create a walking trail on the south side of the Canal from the new pedestrian bridge east to the village’s high bridge at Smith Street over the Canal.

That bridge will undergo renovations to make it more accessible for cyclists and pedestrians. The Smith Street bridge, like the new pedestrian bridge, directly connects to the Empire State Trail, thus completing the loop.

The Canal holds immeasurable potential as a driver for economic growth and activity in our village. In 2005, we completed our Welcome Center on the Canal; visiting boaters tie up and take advantage of Welcome Center greeters, shower, and laundry facilities, and Wi-Fi.

We will be building a pavilion there for hosting our popular summer serenades program on the Canal, and an adaptive kayak dock is scheduled to be installed at the Welcome Center this spring. The recently formed Brockport Community Rowing Club, working to bring rowing to Brockport, has built a dock at the college near the site of the new pedestrian bridge. The bridge will help the club achieve that goal as, among its other functions, it has been designed for viewing regattas that can be hosted on our stretch of the Canal.

Brockport began almost 200 years ago as a transport and shipping hub on the Erie Canal. Though commercial shipping is long gone from the Canal, we and other Canal communities have celebrated its reincarnation as a recreational waterway and driver of tourism.

The Reimagine the Canals initiative, and the new pedestrian bridge it has fostered, is a capstone to this reincarnation. For Brockport, this is an investment in our economic future and a chance to ensure the Canal and its accompanying trail remain a central and functional part of our community.

Margaret Blackman

Mayor of the Village of Brockport