The state's canal system will reopen earlier than planned after shutting down last week in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy.
On Saturday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the canal system will be fully navigable today at 7 a.m. This comes one day ahead of the scheduled reopening and will be completed with the Erie Canal from Lock 8 in Scotia to Lock 17 in Little Falls.
In advance of the hurricane, water levels in the system were lowered to reduce the chance of flooding. Once the weather stabilized, efforts were made to restore the water to levels that are navigable.
Once the 524-mile canal system is brought back to navigable levels, recreational and commercial vessels will have until Nov. 15, when the system shuts down for the winter.
According to the governor's office, the storm’s impact on the canal was minimal. There was no damage to the locks, dams or other canal structures.
During Tropical Storms Irene and Lee the canal system suffered more than $80 million in damage. After those storms the canal system was repaired in time for boaters to escape by the end of November.
The process of reopening the system began on Wednesday and Capital Region locks and uprights were lowered later in the week.
The state's system includes four canals and passes through 25 counties.
The waterway connects the Hudson River with Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, Cayuga Lake, Seneca Lake and Lake Erie by way of the Niagara River.
In addition to travel, the canal system is an important drinking water source and is used for hydropower and agriculture.
Information about the canal system is available by calling 1-800-4CANAL4 or visiting www.canals.ny.gov, where canal mariners can sign up for email TRANSalerts with updates on canal conditions.