Reimagine the Canals

Reimagine the New York State Canal System for Economic and Recreational Benefit

The New York State Canal System is a marvel of engineering that spans more than 500 miles across Upstate New York. It was a key economic driver for the state, opening a direct trade route to the Midwest at a time when the Mississippi River was the most viable alternative. It is a storied part of our history and was a revolutionary piece of transportation infrastructure.

While the canals have not been a major shipping channel in half a century, they remain impressive working assets that are beloved by surrounding communities, creating the opportunity to Reimagine the Canals for greater public benefit.

Our Reimagine the Canals initiative has five high-level goals:

  • Resilience – Utilize Canal infrastructure to mitigate summer flooding and eliminate ice jams in the Mohawk Valley
  • Regeneration – Adaptively reuse infrastructure and surplus land to improve quality of life in communities bordering the waterway
  • Restoration – Manage the waterway to restore the natural environment for people and wildlife, rebalancing a highly compromised ecosystem
  • Reuse – Use water no longer needed for large ships to support new uses such as agriculture and recreational fi shing, and further bolster water- and trail-based recreation and tourism
  • Retrofit – Identify opportunities to drive operational improvement that will reduce ongoing operations and maintenance costs and generate revenue

To achieve these outcomes and revitalize the canals, NYPA has embarked on a four-part strategy:

  • Emphasize and demonstrate the new recreational and economic value of the canals by investing in projects that produce tangible civic benefits and operating efficiency
  • Work with technical and regional stakeholders to ensure local engagement
  • Source new capital from a broader set of public and private investors
  • Drive the most efficient ways of working within NYPA and the New York State Canal Corporation through a refined operating model