The Telegram
  • Canal closures strand travelers in Ilion

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  • Debbie Poczik’s birthday plans have changed.
    “We were hoping to be sailing around the Statue of Liberty on my birthday Oct. 5. We’re not going to make it,” she said Monday. “Instead, we’re going through the closed lock on my birthday.”
    The Indiana resident and her husband, Vince, will be puttering through the currently closed Erie Canal Lock 13 in Yosts come Saturday, one of the three days the state Canal Corp. will allow boats backed up on the waterway to go east or west.
    Locks 12 through 14 - Tribes Hill to Canajoharie - have been closed since Sept. 16 due to emergency repairs on the lock in Yosts.
    While the movable dam at the lock was undergoing a $15 million rehabilitation project, Shane Mahar, the deputy communications director for the state Thruway and Canal Corporation, said a void was discovered underneath the dam’s pier that required immediate attention.
    Initially, crews thought a leak in a coffer dam - which is being used during the maintenance project - had been addressed, but a few days later Mahar said more water was in the coffer dam.
    “Later on we got a diver and discovered a 13-foot by 14-foot void underneath the center pier where the earth and the concrete was just missing,” he said.
    The closed section of the canal is expected to be open from around noon Thursday till 8 p.m. Sunday for boats of 7 feet in depth or less to travel through.
    Then, Mahar said, it’ll be closed for several weeks and will reopen in time for the end of the canal season, which is Nov. 15.
    Despite the delays the closure has caused, Ilion Marina Dockmaster Don Sterling said the village of Ilion and the marina are benefiting from the influx of boats docking there.
    “Everybody is looking for a place to stay,” he said. “Come Thursday, it’s just going to be a mass exodus.”
    Typically, the Ilion Marina can accommodate nine or 10 boats along the 500-foot wall. Sterling said he expected to have about 14 by Tuesday.
    After the boats head downstate - as all the boats docked in Ilion plan to do - Sterling said the marina pretty much will be done for the season.
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