Open from Oswego to Waterford to Allow Stranded Boats to Reach Destinations.
Sections of the Erie Canal and the Oswego Canal will temporarily reopen for a two-week period that begins Sunday, November 20, the New York State Canal Corporation announced. The eastern portion of the Erie Canal has been closed to navigation in the Mohawk Valley since major flooding in late August damaged several canal structures. To allow transient marine traffic to reach their destinations this season, portions of the canal system will reopen from November 20 through December 3. The reopening will be limited to the Erie Canal from the Hudson River, westward to the Syracuse area, and the Oswego Canal, from Syracuse, north to Lake Ontario. The regular 187th navigation season on the state canal system ended as scheduled on November 15.
Canal Director Brian Stratton said, "Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Canal Corporation and Thruway Authority employees, working alongside our dedicated emergency contractors, we are able to beat our original deadline reopening the Canal by Thanksgiving Day. With luck, many of our stranded marine customers will be home for the holiday." Many commercial and recrational boaters were stranded when historic floods caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee swept the Mohawk Valley, damaging many canal facilities. Among those seeking to make it to home ports for the winter are a tugboat in the Albany area bound for Michigan; two cruise ships in the Utica area headed for their home port in Rhode Island, and several large pleasure boats on the Great Lakes, bound for the Hudson River and points south.
While service was restored on most of the 524-mile-long Canal system, a 55-mile stretch of the Erie Canal remained closed between Schenectady and Little Falls since August 28. Among the monumental projects completed by the recovery crews was the restoration of the river channel in three locations where the floodwaters had caused extensive erosion around dams and lock structures. An estimated 15,000 tons of flood debris were loaded on more than 100 barges and removed. Extensive dredging removed massive amounts of gravel that had filled the navigation channels. 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.