In a clear victory for business owners along the Barge Canal and recreational boaters, Senator James L. Seward announced today that the state thruway authority has reversed its plan to reduce operating hours on the state's canal system. The reversal is a win for tour boat operators and companies that rely on the canal system for their businesses.
"The upstate economy is already fragile," Seward said. "The thruway leadership should be using the canal to boost businesses, not making it more difficult for them to pay their bills."
The thruway authority announced on March 19 a move to cut five hours from the canal's daily operating hours, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. currently to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Seward protested the move to the thruway's officials, urging them to reconsider their decision.
"The cut in hours could have crippled canal-oriented businesses, and that would have a ripple effect on the entire upstate economy," Seward said.
Seward said that tour boat operators along the canal would have been forced to cancel their evening dinner cruises, weddings, and other private functions already booked for the summer. Hotels, restaurants, and other businesses catering to out-of-town boaters and tourists visiting the canal would have suffered as well. Widely-anticipated events centered around the canal include the Little Falls Canal Days, and the event would been affected because boaters who normally attend would have been prevented from using the locks in the evening.
"There is no question that communities and local businesses in my district that depend on these canal celebrations would have been adversely affected," Seward said, "and I am glad that we won this one for the businesses and communities along the canal."