Updated 06/15/2012 10:13 PM
Crews continue to repair Erie Canal Aqueduct
Construction crews continue work on the Erie Canal in DeWitt after an aqueduct broke last week. The water was rushing through the breech into Butternut Creek, causing erosion and flooding. Our Katie Gibas was at the Erie Canal Friday and updates us on the progress of repairs.
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ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- There's just something special about the Erie Canal Path.
"It's excellent for riding because it's flat. You can go way out and see a lot of wild life actually," said Matthew Vural, a DeWitt resident.
Patrick Maloney, a Lyncourt resident, added, "It plays a big role in Central New York. It's one of the few big bike paths around here."
But last week, a portion of an aqueduct in DeWitt gave way, causing water to flow out of the canal into Butternut Creek. Officials say it led to erosion and flooding along the creek. Crews from the State Canal Corporation and New York State Parks have been working on the issue for the last seven days.
"Canal water was rushing through. It was opening a larger and larger hole and eventually, it was going to wash out underneath the aqueduct, which could compromise the walls to the aqueduct," said Rob Hiltbrand, NYS Parks Central Region Director
The aqueducts date back to the 1840s. And both construction officials and those who use the canal path say preserving these pieces of history is essential.
"Canal Corporation does a great job of maintaining these historic structures. It's not only a recreational resource that we're maintaining here, it's a piece of history that people really enjoy," said Hiltbrand.
Joe Barnello III, a Solvay resident, added, "I think it definitely needs to be preserved. Back in the day, when I was in fourth grade, I did a project on the Erie Canal and learned about aqueducts. I think it's definitely a part of this community's history, especially since there's not a lot of places that have the canal anymore. So the aqueducts are probably the biggest parts that are left of it."
The canal path was closed from DeWitt to Burdick Street Friday, but it did reopen Friday evening and will remain open for the weekend. But there could be sporadic closures next week as crews continue their repairs.
"Try to avoid the Butternut Drive lots, the Burdick Street lots and head a little bit farther east. There's several other places to access the towpath. We have Manlius Center, Kirkville Road, there's all nice lots. And it gives people a chance to explore other parts of the canal that they're not familiar with," said Hiltbrand.
Officials are still evaluating the extent of the damage. But they anticipate the repairs will be done late next week.