Photo by Dave Warner – The Grande Mariner passes by the Little Falls Harbor on its way to Lock 17 during the summer of 2018.

Due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, the Canal Corporation has suspended all non-essential construction and maintenance activities and states that the New York State Canal system will not open for through navigation of the locks on May 15th as previously announced.

However, to support the Canal’s continued use as a prime recreational waterway, the Canal Corporation is currently evaluating operational options to ensure New Yorkers will have access to the Canal system, if even potentially on a regional basis, this season.

The Canal Corporation has stated that this is an extraordinarily difficult time and that they are sensitive to potential hardships Canal stakeholders, as well as many other New Yorkers, may experience. The situation with COVID-19 is ever-evolving and they are trying to adapt their plans accordingly.

Future updates will be posted through their Notice to Mariners program.

In May 2019, Governor Cuomo announced a sweeping initiative to examine how the Erie Canal system could be reimagined for the 21st century.

The initiative had five objectives:

  • Identify potential new uses for the Erie Canal aimed at improving the quality of life for New Yorkers;
  • Evaluate how the Erie Canal can support and enhance economic development along the canal corridor;
  • Find new opportunities to enhance recreation and tourism along the Erie Canal;
  • Assess how the Erie Canal can help mitigate impacts from flooding and ice jams to improve resiliency and restore ecosystems in canal communities; and
  • Identify opportunities for using the Erie Canal infrastructure to expand irrigation for Western New York farms.

The Reimagine initiative builds on efforts by the Governor to invest in the Canal corridor, including the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and Taste NY, both of which have stoked the growth of new industries, businesses, and housing in Canal communities.

For updates and information on the status of the Canal, visit Canals.NY.gov or follow them on Facebook or Twitter