FEMA approves $12M for canal fixes
Storms last year caused more than $40M in damage
CAPITAL REGION The Federal Emergency Management Agency has now approved more than $12 million in disaster funding for repairs to the state canal system.
But according to the website of the state Canal Corporation and its parent agency, the state Thruway Authority, repairing damage from tropical storms Irene and Lee could significantly exceed early estimates of $31 million. The projects under way and those that have not yet been contracted already total more than $40 million.
Three recovery projects from the storm damage are under way, focusing on repairs to the movable dam gates, uprights and lighting systems at several locks stretching from E-8 in Glenville to E-15 in Fort Plain, according to project descriptions on the website of the state Thruway Authority/Canal Corp.
These three projects total about $15.8 million, and by themselves account for more than half of the early estimates of $31 million in total damage repair costs.
Uprights are the massive arms connected to the superstructures spanning the Mohawk River. The uprights swing down to shoes in the floor of the Mohawk River. They hold gates, or pans, which are large sheets of metal, that are lowered to create a dam at each of the locks. The dams turn the river into a series of lakes suitable for navigation.
State officials in June estimated repairs to canal infrastructure at $31.6 million and announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency had approved more than $8 million in disaster funding to pay for work already completed.
Movable dam gates, locks, roadways and the parks that surround the state’s canals sustained massive damage when floodwater from Irene and Lee slammed tons of debris against the movable dam structures.
Entire approaches to the locks were swept away and the approach to the state Route 103 bridge at Lock 9 was turned into a canyon by the raging water.
Plans are being drawn up for another seven major projects totaling $25 million.
They include dredging the area surrounding Lock E-12 between Tribes Hill and Fort Hunter, estimated at $1.4 million; work on the spillway at Locks E-8 and E-10 at $7 million each; and $1.2 million in site work at Lock 11 in Amsterdam, where the Mohawk River tore up the historic mansion at the adjacent Guy Park Manor.
Repairs to Guy Park Manor itself are on the list, with $600,000 in work planned to go out to bid next year.
Rehabilitation or replacement of mules — the early-1900s machines used to lift gates at the movable dam locks from E-8 through E-15 — is expected to begin this year, with $6.6 million approved for construction.
Officials in Montgomery County shut down county Route 27 — the tight roadway between Tribes Hill and Fort Hunter — after storm damage left the Lock 11 mule hanging precariously close to the road.
According to an email from FEMA spokesman Donald Caetano, the federal government has obligated $2,066,727.49 for 16 projects for canal repairs related to Tropical Storm Irene as of Monday; $10,114,423.71 has been obligated for Tropical Storm Lee, for a total of $12,181,151.20.
It’s unclear if the state Canal Corporation or Thruway Authority have updated estimates on damage and FEMA reimbursement. Neither agency could provide comment Monday.