A portion of a retractable dam stuck in the down position at Erie Canal Lock 9 in Glenville shouldn’t block the flow of ice if it starts raining during a warming trend this weekend, according to the state Canal Corp.
“The Canal Corporation will continue to monitor conditions at Lock E-9 and throughout our system,” Canal Corp. spokesman Shane Mahar said in an email Friday.
The National Weather Service issued a flood watch from this afternoon through Sunday afternoon. Moderate to heavy rain is expected while temperatures spike above 40 degrees and as high as the low 50s.
Rainfall amounts are expected to range from as much as an inch in the Capital Region and to the north and west to as much as 2 inches to the south and east.
The makeup of the unique dams, built in the early 1900s, enables the Canal Corp. to pull them out of the water during the winter to allow for normal flow in the Mohawk River.
They are made up of 2-foot-wide “uprights” which are raised and lowered using chains hooked to them. Once lowered into “shoes” at the river’s floor, two large rectangular “pans” of steel slide along the uprights as they are lowered into
position during the summer to maintain reservoirs suitable for navigation.
The Canal Corp. lifted the retractable dams out of the water by late December, but crews had to wait to retract the Lock 9 dam because contractors needed water to hold up barges working on Lock 10 in Cranesville to the west.
Further prolonging the Lock 9 retractable dam’s removal was an ongoing bridge-painting project being coordinated by the state Department of Transportation.
When crews began to lift the uprights and dams at Lock 9, the chains that connect to two upright structures snapped, leaving the Canal Corp. unable to move them.
Contractors could refit the chains and get them working, but they’d have to go into the frigid river that’s flowing beneath more than a foot of ice, a life-risking process.
So for now, the Canal Corp. has to wait until conditions improve enough for somebody to make the repairs.
With two uprights immobile, ice in the river could get caught. But the river at Lock 9, which includes a bridge carrying state Route 103, is about 300 feet wide, so engineers are not expecting the situation to impede the flow of ice.