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Old 01-10-2016, 05:22   #16
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Re: Erie canal under fire?

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We transited Albany to Osweg this summer. I was very surprised at how little through traffic there was. NO commercial traffic or even shoreside facilities for commercial traffic. Very few towns on the water. So this does not surprise me.

That said I'd hate to see it go. Somethings are worth keeping just for their own sake.
This is the conundrum. Once something is gone it isn't likely to come back. A look at the history of the canal sheds some real light on what happened. When it was built it was essentially a highway to the west. There was no viable way to get above the Niagara Escarpment. The Erie solved that problem by providing a way to the west and several canal towns flourished. Much of upstate NY owes its' existence to the canal. Then our neighbors to the north decided they needed a canal to further transport to the cities of Hamilton, Toronto and others as well as a route to transship goods to the ocean. The Welland Canal and subsequent St. Lawrence Seaway provided the route. This would be the beginning of the end for the Erie. Many of the towns and villages have done what they can to revitalize their canal side existence with Canal Days events and NY has been quite affirmative in constructing trails along the banks. Lots of fun with walking, bicycling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing trails. Unfortunately without a bustling commercial purpose which was its' original purpose the recreational aspects don't provide enough revenue to offset its' costs. I wish there was an easy answer. With the economy of scale that the Seaway provides with large ships the canal and its' narrow shallow low bridge construction is relegated to a recreational item. This doesn't bode well for continued taxpayer support.
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Old 01-10-2016, 13:49   #17
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Re: Erie canal under fire?

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The canal still has some commercial traffic.
General Towing
Not enough to pay for itself but it's there. It is also used for power generation so some maintenance is required for that. The article says it's 50 million a year to run and maintain, and 1.5 million is generated in user fees. I would think they could up the user fees at least a little.

Economic benefit is tough to figure but take alook at the number of marine facilities along the canals.
Marinas and Public Docks - New York State Canals

The employees of each one adds up to a fair number, then include boat sales etc into economic activity gas sales it adds up. Then you have waterfront restaurants tour boats etc. I have to imagine as far as cost benefits work out for state spending this can't be all that bad. Then you have tourism, When I was walking along the canals a month ago I noticed the parking lots at the little parks were filled with out of state plates. The canal seems to help tourism in the area alot outside of the boats passing thru.
I'm going to start of by saying we love the canal.

But a few years back we spent 3 months on the canal. Other than a single cruise ship, we saw zero commercial traffic.

Reality is they are caught in a bind. Raise the rates and it will drive down the number that use it. The cost to run it is an order of magnitude higher than the fees it generates. They don't have many marinas because you can stay for free at the town docks (add docking fees and it's going to drive down the number using it).

The walking and biking trails can be kept while eliminating the expensive parts of the canal (locks, dams, manmade channels, etc...)

The best hope for the canal is it's historic status but someone still has to pay for it. Unfortunately, I can see them shutting down parts or maybe even all of it at some point.
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Old 01-10-2016, 18:37   #18
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Re: Erie canal under fire?

The Erie Canal begs to be a national park, like the Blue Ridge Parkway and Yosemite National Park. Its intrinsic value is exactly the same as these things.

Transfer the canal to the Federal Government, to the National Parks Service. Make it into a National Park. It's an inland waterway, so get the Corps of Engineers to maintain it.
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Old 02-10-2016, 00:49   #19
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Re: Erie canal under fire?

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The Erie Canal begs to be a national park, like the Blue Ridge Parkway and Yosemite National Park. Its intrinsic value is exactly the same as these things.

Transfer the canal to the Federal Government, to the National Parks Service. Make it into a National Park. It's an inland waterway, so get the Corps of Engineers to maintain it.
The problem is the National Parks are already struggling with funding and relatively speaking the canal would be tremendously expensive for the NP service to operate.

Otherwise, I agree it is drastically more valuable compared to some of the lesser NP properties.
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Old 02-10-2016, 06:01   #20
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Re: Erie canal under fire?

Yes. Great idea. And makes sense because it preserves the loop, something which stretches across states.

I wonder what the looper association is doing?
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Old 02-10-2016, 06:31   #21
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Re: Erie canal under fire?

Another thing to consider. In Ireland and the UK they are refurbishing and reopening their canals. Narrow boat cruising is becoming more and more popular and with more and more rental boat operations opening. Here in Ontario the Trent/Severn Canal and the Rideau Canal are always busy during the season. So maybe it just needs better marketing?
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