Canal in good shape as winter comes to an end

Locks again will be free for recreational boaters, will operate extended hours in Niskayuna and Rotterdam
At Lock 7E in Niskayuna, bouys from the Mohawk River pulled for the winter months will soon be reinstalled.
At Lock 7E in Niskayuna, bouys from the Mohawk River pulled for the winter months will soon be reinstalled.

ALBANY — The state canal system has so far escaped any significant damage from winter and is scheduled to open for navigation in two months’ time.

The 2019 season will be May 18 through Oct. 16; locks and lift bridges will be staffed and operating from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. However, a handful of locks also will operate on demand from 5 to 10 p.m. for boaters who call or radio ahead for passage, including C-1 in Waterford, E-7 in Niskayuna and E-8 in Rotterdam.

The locks with extended hours typically see heavy local boating traffic, said Steven Gosset, a spokesman for the New York Power Authority, parent agency of the state Canal Corporation. E-7 and E-8 are among the busier locks, he said, “especially now with the new marina in Schenectady.”

Use of the canal locks will remain free this year for recreational boaters. Tolls had been waived for 2017 and 2018 to mark the 200th anniversary of the original Erie Canal and 100th anniversary of the modern canal system; the Canal Corp. board of directors voted in December to extend free use of the canal for non-commercial watercraft through the 2021 season.

Tolls remain in place for commercial vessels.

Recreational vessels passed through locks or under lift bridges 65,281 times in 2016, 68,928 in 2017 and 71,463 in 2018. A significantly larger number of boaters plied the waters without ever going through a lock.

Spring, which arrives in just a few days, can bring its own weather problems, but Gosset said the locks and other components of the canal system fared well through the winter, with no ice or high-water damage.

“There was no flooding of any great consequence and no damage to canal infrastructure,” he said Friday.

Categories: Business, Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News, Schenectady County

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