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Cruising Grounds

Winter work on Erie Canal stopped

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The New York State Canal System may not be ready to open on May 15. The Canal Corporation’s parent agency, New York Power Authority (NYPA), ordered a work stoppage in March that has left eight canal locks dry with repair projects incomplete, according to a statement by Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS).

An April 14 article in The Buffalo News reported that workers were sent home March 17, and lock projects from Lockport to Whitehall could take up to 60 days to complete. Lock E23 in Brewerton, traditionally one of the busiest locks on the canal, is affected by the work stoppage. Other locks affected include E34/E35 (Lockport); E33 (Rochester), E26 (Clyde), E19 (Schuyler) E13 (Yosts), E7 (Niskayuna) and C12 (Whitehall).

It’s unknown when Lock 33 near Rochester and seven other locks will open for the 2020 Erie Canal navigation season. Photo provided by BoatUS

“We’d like to know why maintenance activity has been allowed to stop while construction activities on the state’s trail system, parks and roads continue,” stated BoatUS Vice President of Public Affairs Scott Croft. “The canal system is not only a critical waterway for recreational boaters, but also to the full recovery of New York State. It’s an economic engine for upstate communities from May through October, and it’s vital to have as much of the season as possible. We are hoping with Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo’s recent April 19 executive order 202.96 to open marinas as essential will help encourage NYPA to act now to get the waterway ready for the season.”

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