Some area residents noticed the span of the Mohawk River between lock 11 in Amsterdam and lock 12 in Tribes Hill was lower than usual this week. The reason has to do with the ongoing maintenance at lock 11. Shane Mahar, deputy communications director of the Canal Corporation, gave an overview of the work being done at the lock and why the closure was necessary.
The lock, originally built in 1910, is in its third year of a major overhaul designed to improve the overall strength of the structure and withstand major flooding events better. In order to work on a section of the movable dam, a temporary dam had been constructed around the section, creating a dry work space for workers that reaches all the way down to the river bed.
Mahar said that Monday, crews noticed that water was seeping into the work space. Out of an abundance of caution, workers were removed from the work space, and water was pumped in to try to equalize the pressure between the inside and outside of the temporary dam. According to Mahar, the water level between lock 11 and lock 12 was lowered by approximately 2 to 3 feet in order to achieve the equalization between the inside and outside faster. Later that day, the decision was made to close the section until workers could reinforce the temporary dam.
Mahar said he expects the section to be re-opened at some point on Saturday.
Update: 8/6/2016 – the section of river is now open according to the canal authority.