Canal freight at 20-year high

Dougtone/via Flickr
May 7, 2013

This is the first week that New York state’s network of canals is open for its 189th year. While the canals are often seen as an economic lifeline from another era, this could be a big season for commercial traffic.

The Canal Corporation expects more than 100,000 tons of commercial freight move along its 500 plus miles of waterways this year.

That level of shipping hasn't been seen in two decades. Much of the increase, says the Canal Corp, will be from a deregulation of the Canadian grain industry.

Jonathan Daniels is the director of the Port of Oswego, at the end of the Oswego Canal. He says an increase in shipping on the canals could continue a boost in business for his port.

"The more vessels that we can get clearing into this area, the more capacity we have, the more willing people are going to be in the future to look at Oswego Harbor, the port, and the facilities around us as a viable shipping option," he says.

The Port of Oswego handles between 80 to 120 ships a year and Daniels says revenues have been increasing the past few years.

The increase in canal traffic comes as the authority that operates it deals with budget cuts. The Canal Corp was forced to lay off 42 people - or eight percent of its workforce - earlier this year.