Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — While repair work will keep the Albion section of the Erie Canal dry for at least a week, state officials say the Middleport to Medina section will begin refilling almost immediately after a 25-mile stretch canal across Orleans County is drained.
New York State Canal Corporation John Callaghan said Thursday that the agency intends to keep the section between Albion and Holley dry while repairs to a fracture that caused a large sinkhole Monday night are made. Two other sections that were also draining the past two days could potentially be refilled and reopened to boaters and recreation by this weekend.
Refilling those sections will be much simpler that the effort in Albion. Callaghan said the Canal Corporation will slightly crack open the guard gate in Middleport, allowing the section in western Orleans County to reach equilibrium with the section in eastern Orleans County before fully opening. The process will then be repeated in the section that flows from Medina to just west of the damaged area along Albion Eagle Harbor Road.
Those areas were included in the canal draining to quicken the decline in water levels, Callaghan said.
“The idea of expanding the closure was to make use of the waste weir in Medina,” he explained. “ We won’t need to keep those 15 miles de-watered.”
Water levels had already dropped significantly by Thursday afternoon, with a floating pier next to Medina’s Canal Basin Park sitting about a third of the way to the bottom at noon. The Canal Basin Park itself was well-populated, as the drop in water levels didn’t diminish attendance at the weekly farmer’s market.
Callaghan said the Canal Corporation expects the draining sections to be completely dry by this morning.
Canal Corporation and other state officials have inspected the site in recent days, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo taking a look Thursday. In Albion, he announced that the state will work 24/7 on the repair work.
That work is scheduled to begin once the canal is empty. Canal Corporation officials have said that will likely take one to two weeks.Contact reporter Jim Krencikat 585-798-1400, ext. 6327.