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Canal to cut hours, reinstate tolls

Usually, Mid-Lakes Navigation Company's summer dinner cruises include a ride through Baldwinsville's Lock 24.

This may not occur this year because the Canal Corporation has cut back the hours of lock operation in an economic move. Also, tolls are being reinstated when the canal opens May 1.

These announcements have received widespread criticism and are seen as being engineered by the New York State Thruway Authority. Canal Corporation Director Carmella Mantello said they had no choice. It was told to cut operational costs by $1 million. This is being achieved through reducing hours of operation and cutting seasonal staffing from 180 to 100.

The operation hours are being shortened from last year's 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. hours to this year's 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. hours for the upcoming navigation season. The 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. hours were most recently in place during the 1991 and 1992 navigation seasons. This is in addition to reinstated recreational tolls for use of the canal system locks and lift bridges. All pleasure craft boats passing through any lock or lift bridge must purchase a two-day, 10-day or seasonal pass. Two and 10-day passes range from $5 to $50, depending on the size of the boat. Season passes are $25 for boats under 16 feet; $50 for boats 16 to 26 feet; $75 for boats 26 to 39 feet; and $100 for boats over 39 feet.

There are also two and 10-day passes. They will be available for in-person purchase at a number of sales locations including designated locks, Canal Corporation section headquarters; Canal Corporation Headquarters; and at designated vendors. Passes can also be purchased through the mail by sending a request to New York State Canal Corporation, P.O. Box 22058 Albany, New York 12201-2058.

The reinstitution of the tolls seems to pale in comparison to the shortening of the hours when the locks will be operative. This is seen as a major blow to many upstate communities along the canal.

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