A dozen grand sailboats and yachts lined the dock alongside the Waterford Harbor Visitor Center on Friday morning, where several boaters eagerly awaited today’s 7 a.m. opening of the New York State Canal System.
“We’re anxious to get home,” said Mike Callahan, who, with his wife Liz, will embark on a two-day trip west to Oneida Lake northeast of Syracuse.
The couple spent most of the winter on their 37-foot, ketch-rigged Formosa sailboat.
For the Callahans, the canal system opens a doorway that connects them with places like the Bahamas and Florida where they spent this past winter before venturing up the East Coast and back to the canal’s entrance near where the Hudson and Mohawk rivers meet.
Canal Corp. Director Carmella Mantello and representatives of state and local government gathered in historic Waterford Friday morning to celebrate the start of today’s navigation season.
Today marks 186 consecutive years of travel along the system, which opened as the hand-dug Erie Canal and later turned into a Barge Canal using the Mohawk River.
Today, the state’s Canal System, including the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca canals, allows for travel through 524 miles of waterway linking the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes and Niagara River.
“We are lucky in this state for a lot of reasons,” said Assemblyman Ron Canestrari, D-Cohoes, who joined other local officials for Friday’s ceremony.
This season’s opening follows five months of work on more than $26 million in projects to maintain the system’s infrastructure.
Part of that work includes a $16.4 million rehabilitation of Lock E-6 under the direction of the Kubricky Construction Corp., a two-year project to reface concrete in the lock, replace the upper lock gates and valves, lock operating system and rewire the guard gate, according to the Canal Corp.
Flood damage repairs and the rehabilitation stalled by the 2006 floods were completed at Lock E-10 east of Amsterdam as well, work performed by the C.D. Perry & Sons Inc. and James H. Maloy Inc.
Canal operations and maintenance staff repaired the lower concrete sill and grouting to seal water leaks at Lock C-3 where lower valves and tubing were repaired.
Locks C-2, E-8 and E-14 all had a major tune-up during the off season, with replaced gate anchor rods, repairs to lock gates, seals, sockets, valves and leak repairs.
About 500 Canal Corp. employees keep the system operating.
“These folks work day in and day out … to keep the 100-year-old, aging infrastructure intact,” Mantello said.
The opening of the canal system also heralds the start of the warm-weather season expected to draw hundreds of people to parks and some of more than 300 events planned in and around the state.
A complete calendar of events is available on the Canal Corp. website at www.nyscanals.gov.
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Categories: Schenectady County