Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Erie Canal will reopen to commercial and recreational traffic for a two-week navigation period that begins Thanksgiving Day. The canal has been closed in the Mohawk Valley since major flooding damaged several canal structures late last month.
The canal is projected to re-open on Nov. 24 and close on Dec. 8 to allow transient marine traffic to reach their destinations this season. Two large tour boats are among the many vessels that have been stranded on the Great Lakes since Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee devastated parts of the state. Those boats will now be able to complete their journeys.
This is welcome news to boaters and commercial vessels with no other reasonable alternative to returning to their home ports, Governor Cuomo said. We are pleased to be able to continue the important storm recovery efforts that will rebuild New York and restore our transportation infrastructure.
In the wake of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, catastrophic flooding overwhelmed locks on the Erie Canal between Fort Plain and Schenectady, causing widespread damage. Steel uprights which hold the dam gates in place were twisted and displaced and lock and power houses were swept away in the flooding. Machinery used to operate the locks and dams were inundated with flood water and at three locations the flood waters carved new channels for the Mohawk River around the lock and dam structures.
Over the next two months, crews will conduct extensive repair efforts, including fixing damaged truss structures, adding new hardware, restoration of electricity and other utilities, debris removal, installation of safety features, and the reinstallation of temporary modular lock houses and other machinery. The canal will also be dredged where new refill deposited during the flooding has blocked the river.
Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, "The 2011 season is the 187th year of continuous inland navigation in New York, and we are pleased to be able to give our customers the ability to complete their planned itineraries."
The Canal Corporations Erie Canal reconstruction plans are based on current damage assessments and the required repairs are part of an aggressive construction schedule that is weather dependent. As of today, September 26, the Erie Canal remains closed between Locks 8 in Schenectady and Lock 17 in Little Falls. The Canal is open from Lock 2 in Waterford through Lock 7 in Niskayuna. All areas west of Lock 17 in Little Falls are operating.
Typically the navigation season of the New York canal system is May 1 through November 15. To accommodate vessels stranded because of the damage to the Erie Canal, Governor Cuomo has requested that Canada extend the season for the Chambly Canal which connects Canada to Lake Champlain. Normally the Chambly Canal season would end October 10.
Additional information concerning navigation on New York State waterways can be found at the web site www.canals.ny.gov or by calling 1-800-4CANAL4