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Emergency work continues on Erie Canal embankments

If you’re heading down to the Erie Canal trail to enjoy some of the nicer weather, you might notice a small detour in the Perinton section of the path.

Matt Frys is the New York State Canal Corporation Western Division Construction Manager, and he’s the guy in charge of canal construction projects from Syracuse to Lockport.

The concern with this area of the canal, about a 10 minute walk from Perinton Park, is that there is a considerable amount of “seepage” – meaning water is running through the embankment to the surrounding area from the canal when it is filled.

The Canal Corporation hired an outside consulting group, Rizzo, to inspect embankments and rate them based on potential issues.

Here at the Perinton site, the canal path has been dug up, and these giant steel beams or as Frys says, “45 foot long metal popsicle sticks,” are being drilled into the ground and locked together, to stop water from leaking out of the canal.

“All on our walk all the way up the embankment was 30, 40, 100 feet wide. Well here, we are in a section where the trail is 10 feet wide. We have maybe 5 feet on one side, 5 feet on the other. So this really narrows down the embankment, and that’s why we’re having the seepage issue here because we don’t have as much material at the bottom of the embankment to hold that moisture back.”

Standing on the edge of the embankment looking down, you can see spots of water forming on the residential land near the canal. Water that has leaked out from under the old steel piles, installed in 1912.

Once completed, the canal trail will be filled back in and ready for runners and bikers once again, Frys says they’re hoping it will be all set sometime next week.

Officials with the canal corporation say this emergency repair work in Perinton and also in Ogden is not related to the controversial vegetation management project that lead to a lawsuit against the Canal Corporation.

The injunction against cutting of trees on the Canal in Pittsford, Perinton and Brighton will continue, pending the Power Authority and Canal Corporation complying with the State Environmental Quality Review Act.