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Canal officially closed

The New York State canal system officially closed at 5 p.m. Saturday Nov. 15, ending the 183rd navigation season.

During the winter months, Canal Corporation employees conduct a variety of maintenance work to prepare the system for opening the following spring. This work includes repairing buoys and other equipment retrieved from the waterway in the fall, as well as repairing and rehabbing the century-old equipment used to operate the 57 locks, 19 movable bridges and dozens of water control structures across the system.

This year saw an increase in commercial traffic with the shipment of heavy equipment to mid-western Great Lakes ports including Ashtabula, Ohio and Duluth, Minn. There were more than 40 shipments by barge and tug this year, compared to 15 shipments in 2007 and 16 in 2007. Much of the traffic was generated by the New York State Marine Highway Transportation Co. based in Albany. Its canal business increased by more than 50 percent this year, said President Rob Goldman.

However, due largely to high fuel costs, recreational boating was down by more than 20 percent, officials said.

The canal system is comprised of four historic waterways, the Erie, the Champlain, the Oswego and the Cayuga-Seneca Canals. Spanning 524 miles across New York State, the waterway links the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes and the Niagara River.

The Canal Corporation also announced the availability of the 2008/2009 winter calendar of events, a listing of 200 festivals, events and attractions along the 524-mile canal corridor. For more information, visit nyscanals.gov or call 1-800-4CANAL-4.

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