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Rochester photographer, Richard Margolis has been leading an effort to save the almost one hundred year old railroad swing bridge in Charlotte. With the demise of the ferry, city officials are rethinking the port that was undergoing a revitalization of sorts before Duffy pulled the plug on the sinking ship. The beautiful Phil Bliss illustration, above, casts the old bridge in a new light. It has officially been condemned and the Coast Guard instructed CSX (the railroad) to demolish it. I didn't know the Coast Guard carried so much clout down there. It hasn't swung since the mid nineties but that doesn't mean we should tear it down. Let's get creative. Contact Richard if you would like to help with this effort. He has a web site devoted to the bridge.

Richard Margolis took this beautiful photo of the bridge.

Effort to revive Hojack bridge quietly persists
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
January 23, 2006

Greg Livadas
Staff writer

(January 23, 2006) —
Just a few feet from where the high-speed ferry
sits idle at the Port of Rochester, a gray steel bridge rests in the
middle of the Genesee River, where it has been for 100 years.

Officials of the previous city administration lobbied to get rid of the
Hojack swing bridge, saying it was obsolete, an obstruction to
navigation, and would interfere with the ferry. At 304 feet, the bridge
is 20 feet longer than the Spirit of Ontario.

But local preservationists say the rare bridge, with some minor
aesthetic assistance, could become a tourist attraction, welcome
visitors with lights and even be used again if rail service between
Charlotte and Irondequoit is re-established.

"It's a historic landmark, an icon in Rochester," said Richard Margolis,
62, a local photographer who heads The Bridge Project, a group hoping to
save the bridge. "It's the most important object in the Port of
Rochester. If you remove that bridge, our port would be just like any

Now that the city is out of the ferry business — Mayor Robert Duffy has
refused to support more funding for the financially failing project —
Margolis hopes planners considering future uses at the port will include
the bridge as part of that vision.

The Hojack rail lines, enabling trains to travel from Niagara Falls to
Oswego along Lake Ontario, were taken out years ago. CSX Transportation
owns the bridge, which was last used in 1995.

Coast Guard Chief Jeff Hall said CSX was told to remove the bridge in
2002. "We're under the order from the Coast Guard. ... We need to
comply with that order," CSX spokesman Bob Sullivan said in 2003.

Demolition stalled
But the original plans to tear down the bridge were
stalled when the Rochester Trolley & Rail Corp. announced hopes of
establishing some sort of rail service that could incorporate use of the
Hojack bridge. "I would like to see the bridge go back to use as a
connection between Charlotte and Irondequoit," said Christopher Burns,
31, the corporation's president. He said it would cost about $5million
per mile to re-establish rail service from the river to Irondequoit Bay,
a distance of about four miles.

"Some people have big dreams and big plans," said Irondequoit Supervisor
Mary Ellen Heyman. "If it can enhance the community, I would be in
support of it. But if the money would come out of the tax base, it's not

In June 2004, just as high-speed ferry service to Toronto was to begin,
the Coast Guard reaffirmed its decision to have the bridge removed to
"help alleviate vessel traffic problems associated with the security
zone that surrounds the ferry while it is in transit and moored at its

But the bridge has outlived the ferry service. Sullivan said he is
researching the bridge's status but was unable to provide an update last

Removing the bridge not only would be costly but also could create an
environmental issue, said Hall, of Cleveland. The paint used on the
bridge probably contains lead. "We have environmental folks who worry that if it is torn down, what will go into the water and eventually the lake?" he said. A report on
that subject has not been completed. So for now, the bridge stands.

Landmark status
The bridge is eligible for state and national historic
landmark status but has not been given it yet; it is being reviewed by
the state Historic Preservation Office in Albany.

But even with that historic designation, the bridge still could be
demolished, Hall said. That's dependent upon the original construction
permit. In this case, the permit said the bridge would be used for
transportation. "Once that ended, it shall be removed," Hall said.

Not part of plans
Boston-based Sasaki Associates, a planning consultant
that is offering potential options for the Port of Rochester, knows
about the bridge but doesn't plan to make a suggestion one way or the
other about its future. One proposal was to convert the bridge into a
restaurant. That would be extremely costly, said Varoujan Hagopian,
principal of Sasaki. It would cost millions to make it
handicapped-accessible and waterproof and satisfy municipal codes.

"It's a unique structure. In its heyday, it was a technical marvel. We
acknowledge that," Hagopian said. "But if you're putting human beings on
it, I don't see how it could be paid (for)."

One person's junk ...
Margolis says his group submitted a proposal to
the city two years ago to put lights and banners on the bridge,
welcoming visitors to Rochester.
"That proposal went nowhere," he said. "It's shabby now because CSX has
ignored it. Viewed from the right places, it is still stunningly beautiful."
Margolis still sees potential in the bridge. "Now that we have a new
mayor, there's a new supervisor in Irondequoit and we have a new
marketing team, they can't ignore the bridge," he said.

"We're hoping with all of that, and the big change of plans with the
ferry, we'll have an opportunity to take a fresh look at the possibilities."

Rochester train station

We have a long history of tearing down cool structures.

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