145 entries submitted to reimagine state canal system
Tolls for recreational boaters will be waived again on canal in 2018
Press Release, NYS Canal Corp.
The New York Power Authority and New York State Canal Corporation announced that 145 entries have been received for a $2.5 million competition that seeks the best ideas to enable the state Canal System to become an engine for economic growth and a world-class tourism destination.
“I am excited at the positive response to our Reimagine the Canals competition,” said Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of NYPA, which runs the Canal System as a subsidiary. “It’s apparent that this competition has sparked a lot of creative thinking about how to ensure New York’s canals can prosper today and in the decades to come.”
Submissions for the Reimagine the Canals Competition came from nine states and seven nations, including from as far away as India and Vietnam. Eight finalists are expected to be announced in April, with the final winning entries slated to be named in September.
The goals of the competition include soliciting programs and initiatives that promote the Canal System as a tourist destination and recreational asset and as a source of sustainable economic development. Initiatives were also sought that uphold the heritage of the Canal System, which marks its centennial this year, as well as the long-term financial sustainability of the Canal Corporation.
“This is a rare opportunity to forge a new direction for an iconic asset that shaped not only the history of this state, but the nation as well,” said Brian U. Stratton, Canal Corporation director. “I’m confident many great ideas will emerge from this competition that point toward a bright future for our canals.”
Entries were submitted on two separate tracks, one for infrastructure; the other for programs that have the potential to increase recreational use and tourism.
A global panel of judges will select up to eight finalists, who will receive up to $50,000 to further develop their proposals for the final round. The judges will then recommend two or more winners, who will receive $250,000 to $1.5 million, depending on the scope of the project.
The Canal Corporation Board of Directors, at the NYPA and Canals Board Meeting, on Tuesday also approved a plan to waive tolls for recreational vessels in 2018, as the State continues to commemorate 200 years of Erie Canal history by marking the 100th anniversary of the current 524-mile Canal System’s opening in 1918.
This is the second straight year that tolls—normally $25 to $100 for a season pass, depending on the size of the vessel—have been waived. Last year, recreational boaters traveled for free to celebrate the bicentennial of the start of construction for the Erie Canal. This year is the 100th anniversary of the Barge Canal’s first opening to traffic.
The New York State Canal System, the third generation of the iconic Erie Canal which opened in 1825, today includes the Erie, Oswego, Cayuga-Seneca and Champlain Canals. It was formerly called the Barge Canal, which was built, starting in 1905, to accommodate larger vessels and better enable the canals to compete with railroads for freight traffic.
This year’s navigation season on the Erie Canal is slated to begin May 15 and will run through Oct. 10. The Oswego, Cayuga-Seneca and Champlain canals are expected to be fully open by May 19.