Canal gets early start on 192nd season

Posted 27 April 2016 at 12:00 am

Today is earliest opening of historic waterway in more than 30 years

Photo by Tom Rivers – A tugboat is pictured in Albion on Tuesday morning, getting ready for the canal season which starts today.

Press Release, Gov. Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the opening of New York State’s Canal system for the 192nd consecutive season of navigation.

The April 27 opening date marks the earliest start to the navigation season since 1982 thanks to a mild winter which allowed staff to complete maintenance projects, and opening preparations, ahead of schedule. The Canal system includes the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca Canals in upstate New York.

“New York’s Canal system is an engineering marvel of epic proportions and its construction demonstrated the sort of vision, determination and boldness that define us as New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “Nearly two centuries after its completion, the Canal system continues to be an important tourist destination, while also playing a vital role supporting industries throughout Upstate New York.”

The Erie Canal represents one of the most significant engineering achievements in New York’s history and along with its adjoining canals, it continues to play a pivotal role in supporting the state’s economy.

According to a 2014 report (click here), the system generates nearly $380 million in tourism spending annually across upstate New York, and more than $6.2 billion from non-tourism uses such as agricultural irrigation, commercial shipping, and renewable power generated at 27 hydroelectric facilities located along the Canal. The report also determined that the Canals support 26,472 jobs, $1.6 billion in personal income, and $702 million in tax revenue, both directly and indirectly.

New York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation Chair Joanie M. Mahoney said, “We are proud to join with Governor Cuomo in announcing the earliest annual opening of New York’s Canals in over three decades. I know that the communities and businesses which rely on the positive economic benefit of Canal tourism will be happy to see vessels plying the majestic waters of our Canals again, and we join them in welcoming boaters from around the world to the waterway which put the ‘Empire’ in ‘Empire State’ – the Erie Canal.”

New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, “Each year, our iconic Canal system draws scores of visitors from all over the world to travel along America’s most storied manmade waterway and to enjoy walking, biking, and fishing along its banks. It is a historical marvel that has consistently fueled New York’s economy through recreation and tourism, and I look forward to seeing what this year’s Canal navigation season adds to that already-rich history.”

The Canal system plays host to several special events each season, including races, festivals, and other recreational activities which can be found by visiting the Canal’s Calendar of Events. New Yorkers are strongly encouraged to take part in these events that last throughout the duration of the navigation season.

Twenty-four hour service is available to commercial vessels such as tour boats, tugboats, charter boats, cruise ships, and hire-boats operating on the Canal system. Registered commercial operators should call (518) 471-5016 during regular business hours and (518) 499-1700 after hours to make arrangements for lock and lift bridge service outside of the Canal’s regular operating schedule.

The Canal navigation season is scheduled to end on Nov. 20, weather permitting.