This relatively brief story in the NYT about the uptick in commercial shipping on ye olde Erie has aroused a good deal of interest around the blogosphere. You can see some blogger reactions listed here, with a particularly informative post here. It’s part of a realization that you don’t necessarily need to build up a brand-new green-industrial complex in order to improve things and live more sustainably — nor does sustainable living mean “going primitive.” The modern Erie Canal is certainly not primitive, and needs no expensive reconstruction or reconfiguration (although it does need maintenance).
New York was shortsighted in throwing all of its effort into developing the Erie as a recreational waterway, although the two purposes don’t exclude each other. It’s terrible that the state does not have any budget to advertise the Canal’s commercial opportunities in a time when it’s five times cheaper to ship by canal than by truck.
Another missed opportunity: the state could do more to promote the recreational boating (that is, paddling) opportunities of the Old Erie Canal… the especially peaceful and historic abandoned sections running throughout Central New York. You can paddle in Dewitt and Kirkville and Camillus, but my sense is that it isn’t as emphasized as much as biking and walking.
So it’s wonderful to read that Camillus Erie Canal Park (aka the Best Damn Canal Park in the State) is now proceeding with its long-delayed aqueduct project. By next year at this time, you will be able to paddle at least four miles along the tranquil Old Erie, crossing Nine Mile Creek on a fully and accurately restored aqueduct.
Updated: And the Erie Canal shipping continues – a local story about turbines on their way to Pakistan via the Inner Harbor and Albany.