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Orleans lift bridges will be inspected

Posted 13 August 2013 at 12:00 am

State is doing annual mandated check of canal system

Photo courtesy of Canal Corporation – The Tug Syracuse is docked in Buffalo’s Erie Canal Harbor this morning awaiting the start of the annual Canal Inspection Tour. Canal official will be in Orleans County later this week.

Press release, NYS Canal Corporation

The annual inspection of the New York State canal system began today in Buffalo when the Tug Syracuse departed from the Erie Canal Harbor to assess the historic waterway, the New York State Canal Corporation announced.

Canal Corporation officials will inspect the seven lift bridges in Orleans County on Wednesday and Thursday, starting with Medina’s bridge at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday and then working east to check more lift bridges in the county. The maintenance inspections in Orleans are scheduled to end in Holley at 10:50 a.m. Thursday, when crews will depart to Brockport.

The legally mandated inspection will take place over the next two months in two- and three-day segments. It is one of the most critical tools the Canal Corporation has to make a comprehensive and in-depth assessment of the overall condition and capital needs of the nearly 200-year-old canal system, which generates $380 million in tourism-based economic activity and provides drinking water for thousands New Yorkers of as well as water resources for agriculture, industry and hydroelectric power generation.

“For nearly two centuries, the canal system has remained vital to the prosperity of the Empire State, both commercially and recreationally,” said New York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation Chairman Howard P. Milstein. “This inspection is an important opportunity to gauge the overall condition of the canals first-hand, but also to recognize the excellence of our staff for their maintenance of this national treasure. It is this commitment that has allowed this modern marvel to continue to flourish over the years.”

The inspection team grades individual components at locks and lift bridge locations statewide and will then give awards for top performance later this year.

The inspection tour is a tradition that dates from October 26, 1825, when Gov. DeWitt Clinton departed from Buffalo aboard the Seneca Chief to mark the opening of the Erie Canal after eight years of construction.

The effect of the canal was both immediate and dramatic, and settlers poured west. Trade exploded with freight rates from Buffalo to New York at $10 per ton by canal, compared with $100 per ton by road. Within nine years, canal tolls more than recouped the entire cost of construction and New York City was the busiest port in America.

“We are excited to embark on the 2013 Canal Inspection, a time-honored tradition that is central to our maintenance, rehabilitation, and strategic planning efforts,” said Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton. “With the canals playing such an important role in the livelihood of the communities that line its shores, it is essential that we ensure the facilities and equipment of the Canal Corporation are in good working order and acknowledge our dedicated staff for their tireless efforts year-round.”