Erie Canal opens today for 197th navigation season

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Main Street lift bridge in Albion is shown in on May 10. Orleans County has seven of the 16 lift bridges on the canal, the most of any county. Albion has two of the bridges and the others in Orleans County are located in Medina, Knowlesville, Eagle Harbor, Hulberton and Holley.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 May 2021 at 9:47 am

The sign on the tugboat, Pittsford, is shown in May 2020 in Albion, where the vessel is stationed.

A new navigation season started at 7 a.m. today on the Erie Canal for the historic waterway’s 197th season.

The canal is currently closed between Holley and Spencerport with the Holley, Brockport and Spencerport guard gates in the lowered position. That has allowed the Canal Corporation to lower the Erie Canal’s water level as engineers and contractors work to mitigate localized seepage occurring west of the Smith Street Bridge in the Village of Brockport, the Canal Corp. said in a notice to mariners.

The canal system is scheduled to close to navigation on October 13. That puts the canal on a schedule that is close to normal after last year’s start was pushed back until June 26. The start in 2020 was supposed to be May 15 but was delayed because canal staff and construction crews were sidelined early in the pandemic. That prevented the State Canal Corp. from doing some of the work needed before the canals could be opened.

The Canal Corp. also again won’t be charging any tolls or fees for recreational use of the canal system. This is the fifth straight year the tolls have been waived. Those tolls were normally $25 to $100 for a season pass, depending on the size of the vessel.

Standard hours of operation will be from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The following lift bridges in Orleans County will operate on demand from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. until September 15: Holley, Hulberton, Ingersoll Street in Albion, Main Street in Albion, Eagle Harbor, Knowlesville and Medina.