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New York State Governor Announces Historic $50 Million Investment in the New York State Canal System

Governor Hochul has announced a significant $50 million investment into New York State’s Canal system, aimed at ensuring its safety, operability, and contribution to tourism and economic activity, particularly in preparation for the Erie Canal’s Bicentennial in 2025. This funding will support critical infrastructure projects along the waterway, including the rehabilitation of century-old water-impounding structures, coinciding with the seasonal opening of navigation on several canals.

Funding Will Support Critical Infrastructure Projects Along Navigable Waterway and at Legacy Water Impounding Structures

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a historic $50 million capital investment into the New York State Canal system as part of the FY 2025 Enacted Budget. As the State prepares to celebrate the Erie Canal’s Bicentennial in 2025 and looks ahead to the next century of operation along the 524-mile Canal system, this funding ensures that the waterway will remain safe, operable, and a driver of tourism and economic activity. Investments will focus on high-priority infrastructure needs including the rehabilitation of water-impounding structures that have been in service for more than a century. Today’s announcement coincides with the seasonal opening of navigation on the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca Canals.

“Nearly 200 years ago Governor DeWitt Clinton opened the original Erie Canal connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean and now we are making a significant investment to ensure the current Erie Canal and the entire canal system remain safe and a vibrant part of our state’s fabric,” Governor Hochul said. “As a lifelong boater who has plied the canal waters, I know firsthand that the canalway means so much to our communities. This commitment of funding will allow our historic canals to be part of New York’s story for generations to come.”

The funding included as part of the FY 2025 Enacted Budget is part of a comprehensive effort to revitalize the iconic Canal system by the New York Power Authority and New York State Canal Corporation. This effort includes strategically rehabilitating and improving the system’s infrastructure including locks, dams, embankments, culverts, and other civil assets so that the network of waterways and trails will continue to positively support the more than 200 upstate New York communities that are within the canal corridor.

Projects to be funded with the $50 million may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Rehabilitation of reservoir dams built in the 19th and early 20th century to supply water to the Enlarged Erie Canal (1836 – 1918) and other canals.
  • Waste weirs used to regulate the canal’s water levels.
  • Improvements to earthen embankment dams, including the continuation of extensive work in Royalton, Niagara County to install a soil-bentonite slurry wall to mitigate seepage.
  • Rehabilitation of other water management structures that provide resilience benefits, like guard gates which can be used to isolate and protect sites during high water events.

New York Power Authority President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said,“Since the Canal Corporation became a subsidiary of the New York Power Authority in 2017, we have supported the development of Dam Safety and Asset Management programs, conducting more than 800 structural inspections each year, and assessing the vast majority of the civil structures across the 524-mile Canal system. While NYPA has increased investment into the waterway to approximately $140 million per year, the funding prioritized by Governor Hochul and the state Legislature allows us to invest more in critical water-impounding structures to ensure safe operations for canal users and neighboring communities.”

New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, “With the Erie Canal’s Bicentennial on the horizon, I applaud Governor Hochul and the members of the state Senate and Assembly for recognizing how vital the Canal system is to our local economies. Funding these critical infrastructure projects will safeguard downstream residents and businesses and allow the canal to continue to thrive.”

The Canal system’s 57 locks and 16 lift bridges will operate daily through Wednesday, October 16, 2024. For hours of operation and other news, please visit the Canal Corporation’s website.

All Canal Locks and Lift Bridges Operating Today through October 16th

Video of First Vessels Entering Erie Canal at Waterford

Photos of First Vessels Entering Erie Canal at Waterford

May 17 2024 Albany NY

Sources: Midtown Tribune news – https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-hochul-announces-historic-50-million-investment-new-york-state-canal-system
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