Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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Part of Erie Canal temporarily closed to boaters

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Part of Erie Canal temporarily closed to boaters
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You may have noticed a lull in the boating traffic along the Erie Canal the past couple of days and there's a reason for it. Since Monday morning, the canal has been closed from Lock 19 in Frankfort all the way to Lock 6 in Crescent, a hamlet north of Albany. That's about a 93 mile long stretch. But officials at the Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation say it's a temporary closure to protect boaters. Cara Thomas has more.

HERKIMER COUNTY, N.Y. -- It's all that rain we've been getting over the last couple of days. The water level has gotten so high and it's moving so quickly in some areas that officials from the Canal Corporation say the waterway needed to be temporarily closed down to ensure the boaters' safety. They say temporary closures like this are routine and typically can last a few hours or a few days.

We spoke with some businesses along the Erie Canal and asked how a closure like this affects them. For the most part, restaurants and shops say it's not a huge blow to their revenue, but the small marinas within those 93 miles say they need a constant flow of boaters coming through. Ilion's marina usually sees about 300 boats come through every summer, but with all the rain, the boating traffic has been slow.

"It's affected not only our dockage fees, we're not selling the fuel, the people aren't coming in they're not buying groceries and alcoholic beverages from the Village of Ilion. It's put a little damper on all the economy in the Village of Ilion," said Don Sterling, Ilion Marina Dock Master.

There are quite a few boats waiting on either end to get through once the canal reopens and there's even a handful that got stuck in the middle.

Canal Corporation officials say they're letting those boats through on an individual basis so they can dock at a safer marina.

Before the canal can open, they're waiting to see normal navigation levels throughout the canal. On Monday, they did lower the water levels significantly and opened up some of the dams so the canal could absorb more rainfall in the days ahead.

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