NISKAYUNA -- People who fish, boat, exercise and picnic at Lock E-7 in Niskayuna can expect a smoother driving experience this summer -- the state Canal Corporation and the town will team up to repave Lock 7 Road.
State and town officials recently walkedLock 7 Road, located off Rosendale Road, and showed off the rough spots.
"The roadway has been challenged for a number of years, but it is a shared roadway and it's something we want to do," said Brian U. Stratton, director of the Canal Corporation. "The governor knows our canal system is very important. This is a very active section and we want to make sure that as we make these needed investments in the canal that we continue to improve the roadway."
The town will mill and pave about 0.7 mile of Lock 7 Road, from Rosendale to just before a bridge that now stands over a small stream. The Canal Corporation will pave the remaining, approximate quarter-mile to the boat launch and also pave the lock's parking lot.
Infrastructure projects will include replacement of a 1930s-era culvert that carries the stream under Lock 7 Road.
The corporation is currently conducting a winter maintenance "pump-out" of Lock E-7. The operation will ensure the lock's working parts, originally built in the early 1900s, remain in good repair through maintenance of valves, gates, electrical components and concrete.
The state's investment for the projects will be $1.09 million. The town's cost will be $200,000, funds already budgeted.
Paving operations are expected to begin during the middle of May. The job will be completed by early summer.
"Because it's going to impede and overlap with the canal season, starting our 196th season which will open up May 15, they're going to have closed access to the boat launch," Stratton said. "We have other points where boaters can put their boats in until the road is reopened."
Boaters planning spring launches into the Eric Canal and Mohawk River during construction and road work can visit the boat launch at Freemans Bridge Road in Glenville or downstream at Alcathy's Marina in Waterford.
The town and state have been talking about the project for the past two years. Town Councilwoman Denise Murphy McGraw, who toured the road and lock along with Councilwoman Rosemarie Perez Jaquith and Brian Backus, the town's confidential secretary, said there have been complaints about rough Lock 7 Road.
"This started because bicyclists in particular started reaching out to me and saying they were taking their lives in their hands," McGraw said. "This is a recreational destination so a lot of folks bike down here on this road."
According to the corporation, 2,435 vessels locked through "E-7" in 2019, making it one of the busiest locks on the canal system. According to other corporation figures, about 190,000 people used the Empire State Trail in Niskayuna in 2019, making it one of the busiest sections on the trail system.
"People come down here to fish, come down to walk," Stratton said. "Anytime through the season you can see anglers here. When the stripers run, they're all over the place."
Some project facts:
* Work on the pump-out will be finished before the canal's May opening.
* Culvert work will include replacement of concrete footings and abutments.
* Culvert "decking," -- the top of the structure used by motor vehicles -- will be replaced.
* Canal Corporation employees from the Waterford Maintenence Section will complete the pump-out work.
Contact Gazette staff writer Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]