by Brian Sharp • Democrat & Chronicle, link to original post
Fixing up one abandoned railroad bridge for a new walkway over the Genesee River near the University of Rochester campus will cost $1 million. That work should begin next year.
Fixing up another bridge farther north could cost as much as $5 million, a draft feasibility report shows. “Our approach at this point is probably, ‘let’s just stabilize it,'” city engineer James McIntosh said of the least expensive, $125,000 option presented in the report. “It gives us 10 years to find funding … and it’s cheaper than demolishing it.”
The two bridges are part of an ever-expanding city trails network. Construction on a new trail section between Seneca Park and the High Falls district should begin this fall, running along old rail line and crossing West Ridge Road on another old railroad bridge.
And the city estimates spending $120,000, largely on signs, to forge a connection from Lower Falls to the Genesee Riverway trail head at Court Street.
City Council last month authorized design and construction to convert the old Erie-Lackawanna railroad bridge south of Ford Street to a pedestrian bridge, linking the Plymouth-Exchange neighborhood to UR. Construction should be completed by November 2011.
The other, potentially more expensive bridge project involves a 130-year-old trestle near Smith Street. If restored, officials say the 700-foot span would be a stunning addition to the city trail system on par with the Pont du Rennes pedestrian bridge at High Falls.
The bridge came to the city as part of a $1 million-plus land deal in 2005. The land, nearly 20 acres of abandoned rail line, stretches from Charlotte to High Falls, and a significant portion is the El Camino trail work to get under way later this year.
Last November, city-contracted engineers and technicians inspected the bridge as part of a $135,000 project that resulted in the draft feasibility report.
The report presents three options for reuse as a pedestrian and bicycle crossing. Options begin with a basic $3.5 million concept, a somewhat nicer $4 million model and, then, the $5 million alternative that officials liken to the High Line in New York City. Tearing down the bridge would cost $500,000, the report states. “We have other ways across the river,” McIntosh said. “So, from that standpoint, it’s not a high priority (to fix up the bridge). It’s probably in the category of nice to have, rather than need to have. But more connections can open more opportunities.”
The bridge would be another link in the Genesee Riverway Trail, and connect into the planned El Camino-Butterhole-Seneca Park Trail. The new trail section, part of the latter network, should be completed in the spring, said JoAnn Beck, the city’s senior landscape architect. That work is being paid for with a $2 million federal grant, $150,000 from Eastman Kodak Co. and $50,000 in city funds.
Scott Page owns Full Moon Vista Bike & Sport and is executive director of the Tour de New York, a five-day professional cycling stage race in and around Rochester. He also routinely leads city rides — in the winter months.
“The (trail) network we have so far is pretty amazing,” Page said. “I think we have done a good job of making some really nice trails and canal paths. Where we haven’t done so well is we haven’t connected them very well, and we haven’t promoted them very well.”
A study is under way to develop a bicycle master plan, identifying potential trail extensions and on-street bike lanes to create a citywide network.
Another study is planned to map a trail extension from the Genesee Riverway Trail, running parallel to Ridge Road out to Greece.