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State eyes July 4 opening for most of Erie Canal

Photo by Tom Rivers: This canal boat passes through Albion in September 2018.

Staff Reports Posted 15 May 2020 at 5:18 pm

The Erie Canal will open by July 4 for its 196th navigational season, the State Canal Corp. announced today.

The season was supposed to kick off today. But the Covid-19 pandemic prevented canal workers from doing needed maintenance to have the system ready for a new boating season.

But the state has begun to unpause with construction work allowed in phase 1 of a four-phase reopening.

The Canal Corp. will work on maintenance and construction projects on a regional basis under the “NY Forward Reopening” plan. The Western New York region and the Capital region remain on pause and sections of the canal in those regions might not open by July 4. The Canal Corp. said the timeframe for those sections is to be determined.

Orleans County is in the Finger Lakes region and those sections should be open by July 4, the Canal Corporation said.

Canal Corporation crews and contractors will mobilize to work sites in the Capital Region, Mohawk Valley, Central NY, Finger Lakes, and Western NY regions as those areas reopen. Maintenance work that needs to be completed at specific canal facilities varies by location and locks along the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca Canals will open for passage in a staggered fashion.

Here is the tentative schedule for canal reopenings by region:

Capital Region – “NY Forward Reopening” Date TBD

• Erie Canal from Lock E-2 in Waterford to Lock E-9 in Rotterdam

• Champlain Canal from Lock C-1 in Waterford to Lock C-12 in Whitehall

Mohawk Valley Region – Locks opening in phases, targeted for between July 4th & August 10th

• Erie Canal Lock E-10 in Cranesville through Sylvan Beach at Oneida Lake

Central NY Region – Locks targeted for opening by July 4th

• Erie Canal from Oneida Lake to Lock E-25 in May’s Point

• Oswego Canal – except Lock O-7 in Oswego

Finger Lakes Region – Locks targeted for opening by July 4th

• Erie Canal from Lock E-25 in May’s Point to Locks E-34/35 in Lockport – except Lock E-26 in Clyde

• Cayuga – Seneca Canal – except Locks CS-2/3 in Seneca Falls

Western NY Region – “NY Forward Reopening” Date TBD

• Erie Canal Locks E-34/35 in Lockport through Tonawanda

As maintenance and construction work commences, most boaters, paddlers, and anglers can access sections of the Canal system for recreational use today. Mariners are advised that some sections of the Canal system will have reduced water levels until such time as the Canal Corporation completes its projects. In addition, navigation aids are not currently in place, but will be installed on the Canal system as the regions open.

All users of the Canal system and adjacent Empire State Trail are encouraged to practice social distancing while using boat launches, trails and other public resources.

The Canal Corporation appreciates the public’s patience during this time and urges all users to register to receive updates through the “Notice to Mariners” notification program at www.canals.ny.gov.

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