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Nov. 12 reopening

Overtime for canal this year

After emergency repairs end next week, waterway to be reopened through Dec. 2

Monday, November 4, 2013
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Nov. 12 reopening


A boat exits Lock E-2 of the Erie Canal System in Waterford.
A boat exits Lock E-2 of the Erie Canal System in Waterford.

— Blocked by emergency repairs on the Erie Canal, commercial shippers and other boaters will get two extra weeks to travel the Mohawk River in late November.

Repairs continue at the movable dam at Lock 13 where the Canal Corp. found a hole beneath the structure’s center pier in September.

Efforts to stabilize the dam are almost done, and the Canal Corp. is planning a Nov. 12 re-opening.

The entire system is usually closed for the season on Nov. 15.

But the stretch from Locks 2 in Waterford through 23 in Brewerton, north of Syracuse, will stay open until Dec. 2, as will the Oswego Canal.

The Erie and Oswego canals serve as a route between the Hudson River and Canada via Lake Ontario.

Roughly 17 miles of the Erie Canal along the Mohawk River were closed from locks 12 through 14 on Sept. 16 after the hole was found beneath Lock 13’s movable dam.

Work added on Locks 9-11

The required drawdown in water levels prompted the Canal Corp. to pursue additional wintertime work on downstream locks as well, so the river between locks 9, 10 and 11 is drawn down and impassable.

Canal Corp. spokesman Shane Mahar said engineers determined the hole was caused by massive water pressure from this summer’s severe rainfall.

Water pressure is greater in this tight section of the Mohawk River, and the water’s path was further restricted by a coffer dam built to protect contractors working on a dam rehabilitation project.

“Lock 13 is located in one of the narrowest sections of the river, resulting in a much higher water velocity during a high-water event,” Mahar said.

The $15.5 million Lock 13 rehabilitation started in 2010 but came to a halt in 2011 when tropical storms Irene and Lee blasted the region.

The project, in addition to other maintenance, includes resurfacing the northernmost of three piers, which has been completed, and replacing the southern pier altogether.

There was only one solid pier on the dam at the time the scour hole was found beneath the dam’s center pier.

Hit in June deluge

The coffer dam was in place during two major rainfalls, including the deadly June 28 deluge that upended Fort Plain, forcing water beneath the pier.

It blew out a portion of the coffer dam on the work site and sparked the emergency repair project that’s under way.

Mahar said the discovery led to an ongoing inspection at all eight of the movable dams from Lock 8 in Glenville to Lock 15 in Fort Plain.

More scour was found at locks 10 in Cranesville and 11 in Amsterdam, which Mahar said was “nothing that raises other alarms or requires any sort of emergency repair.”

Repairs for the minor additional scouring will be fixed through the canal’s regular maintenance program.

At Lock 13, the scour hole was filled and contractors then drilled more than 150 holes around the entire dam’s foundation before injecting grout into them to ensure the structure’s stability, Mahar said.

Pending successful completion of the repairs, the Erie Canal from Lock 2 in Waterford to Lock 23 in Brewerton should be opened by 7 a.m. Nov. 12, and remain open until Dec. 2. The Oswego Canal will be open under this same schedule, but all locks will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28.

The remaining parts of the state canal system, including the Champlain Canal, Cayuga-Seneca Canal and the Erie Canal from Lock 24 to Tonawanda, will be closed for the season at 5 p.m. Nov. 15.

 
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