MEDINA, NY — Work will soon start along the Erie Canal to allow the historic waterway to be better inspected.
Millions will be spent to clear trees and plants, to see whether there are any serious maintenance issues along the canal. The canal corporation says that the work will begin in areas such as Ridgeway, Medina and Holly later this month.
"It's all about safety," said John Callaghan, the deputy director of the state Canal Corporation.
Experts say there are areas along the Erie Canal from Orleans County and to the east that are above ground level and have too much vegetation on the canal embankment, such are trees and plants — this could pose a problem.
"What we can't see in some of these heavily vegetated areas is the embankment itself the slope of the embankment," he said.
And therefore, inspectors can't see if there are any problems such as leaking or rotting from the canal. Later this month, the state canal corporation says a contractor will begin removing vegetation from embankments along the canal in Orleans and Monroe counties. The same work will be done in Seneca and Saratoga counties at a later date.
"It just helps us identify any issues that may arise much earlier and be able to respond if necessary to much more easily," Callaghan said.
He says areas with high vegetation are inspected daily by the state.
"There's no reason to be apprehensive of the condition of the embankments," Callaghan said.
The canal has had a history of significant repairs, two summers ago, a portion of the canal near Brockport was closed and drained so that a culvert could be repaired.
"It is a good example of a sort of event that the proper maintenance of these embankments can help prevent," he said.
Total price tag for this project is $2.6 million. It's unclear when all the work will be done out east.