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Hochul announces historic $50 million investment in New York State Canal System


Fri, May 17th 2024 01:50 pm

Funding will support critical infrastructure projects along navigable waterway and at legacy water impounding structures

√ All canal locks and lift bridges operating today through Oct. 16

√ Video of first vessels entering Erie Canal at Waterford here; photos here

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a historic $50 million capital investment into the New York State Canal System as part of the enacted budget.

Her team said, “As the state prepares to celebrate the Erie Canal’s bicentennial in 2025 and looks ahead to the next century of operation along the 524-mile canal system, this funding ensures that the waterway will remain safe, operable, and a driver of tourism and economic activity. Investments will focus on high-priority infrastructure needs including the rehabilitation of water-impounding structures that have been in service for more than a century. Today’s announcement coincides with the seasonal opening of navigation on the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca canals.”

Hochul said, “Nearly 200 years ago Gov. DeWitt Clinton opened the original Erie Canal connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean, and now we are making a significant investment to ensure the current Erie Canal and the entire canal system remain safe and a vibrant part of our state’s fabric. As a lifelong boater who has plied the canal waters, I know firsthand that the canalway means so much to our communities. This commitment of funding will allow our historic canals to be part of New York’s story for generations to come.”

The funding included as part of the enacted budget is part of an effort to revitalize the canal system by the New York Power Authority and New York State Canal Corp. This effort includes rehabilitating and improving the system’s infrastructure, including locks, dams, embankments, culverts and other civil assets so that the network of waterways and trails will continue to support the more than 200 upstate New York communities that are within the canal corridor.

Projects to be funded with the $50 million may include, but are not limited to, the following:

√ Rehabilitation of reservoir dams built in the 19th and early 20th century to supply water to the Enlarged Erie Canal (1836-1918) and other canals.

√ Waste weirs used to regulate the canal’s water levels.

√ Improvements to earthen embankment dams, including the continuation of extensive work in Royalton to install a soil-bentonite slurry wall to mitigate seepage.

√ Rehabilitation of other water management structures that provide resilience benefits, like guard gates that can be used to isolate and protect sites during high water events.

New York Power Authority President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said, “Since the Canal Corp. became a subsidiary of the New York Power Authority in 2017, we have supported the development of dam safety and asset management programs, conducting more than 800 structural inspections each year, and assessing the vast majority of the civil structures across the 524-mile canal system. While NYPA has increased investment into the waterway to approximately $140 million per year, the funding prioritized by Gov. Hochul and the State Legislature allows us to invest more in critical water-impounding structures to ensure safe operations for canal users and neighboring communities.”

New York State Canal Corp. Director Brian U. Stratton said, “With the Erie Canal’s bicentennial on the horizon, I applaud Gov. Hochul and the members of the state Senate and Assembly for recognizing how vital the canal system is to our local economies. Funding these critical infrastructure projects will safeguard downstream residents and businesses and allow the canal to continue to thrive.”

The canal system’s 57 locks and 16 lift bridges will operate daily through Wednesday, Oct. 16. For hours of operation and other news, visit the Canal Corp.’s website.

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