The New York State Canal Corp. is calling in a dive team to get a closer inspection of a pier at Lock 13, where efforts to stop water from seeping into a construction workspace failed over the weekend.
The 96-year-old movable dam has been undergoing a $15.5 million overhaul since 2010. Workers from Tioga Construction last week noticed the work area, which is surrounded by coffer dams, was filling with water.
The Canal Corp. on Friday started lowering the water between Sprakers and the next lock upstream, in Canajoharie, and a crew used an injection grout process to try to fill the leak from the coffer dam.
But the grouting didn’t work, forcing the closure of the canal Monday morning from Lock E-12 in Tribes Hill to Lock E-14 in Canajoharie in preparation for a detailed inspection, according to Canal Corp. spokesman Shane Mahar.
Mahar and two high-level Canal Corp. officials described the situation as a mystery during a conference call with The Daily Gazette on Monday afternoon.
The water could be seeping in from beneath the concrete pier — one of several that hold the dam gate’s superstructure in place. And there could be a sinkhole somewhere beneath the dam itself.
The pier in the vicinity of the workspace is believed to be structurally sound, but officials said they would know more once the inspection is complete, possibly by tonight.
Tioga Construction’s work on the site includes replacing the south abutment; refacing and reinforcing the northern abutment and pier in the center of the bridge; steel truss repairs; painting; and electrical work.
The lock and movable dam structure was built in 1917.
Mahar said the situation could lead to a lengthier closure, but he suspects a worst-case scenario would have this section of the canal shut for a week.
The canal system typically closes on Nov. 15, a schedule that could change depending on any oversize shipments that might need to be transported.