Author Topic: Erie Canal expert's words need to be read again & again!  (Read 183 times)

Michael Caswell

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Erie Canal expert's words need to be read again & again!
« on: October 21, 2021, 07:53:24 am »
Thomas Grasso, President Emeritus, Canal Society of New York State, writes this:

https://ecna.us/canal-facts/an-expert-opinion-clear-cutting-canal-embankments/

And another version here:

https://eriecanalfacts.wordpress.com/2018/03/17/an-expert-opinion/


Mr Grasso also recently wrote to us, expressing support for our comments regarding Mr Adam Bello's recent email to the NYS Canal Corporation and New York Power.

https://ecna.createaforum.com/the-stop-the-clearcut-argument/county-executive-writes-to-the-nypa/msg1815/?topicseen#msg1815


And he also supplied these photos of our canal embankments from many years ago, and some more modern canals in Europe.

There is a distinct lack of trees, and any other invasive vegetation, on these canal embankments.

Lets hope some of our politicians can see that there are only a very few people who think trees are a good idea on an embankment dam.

The first 2 pictures:  from pre-Barge Canal Construction – I think you will notice lack of trees in these c. 1850’s or earlier embankments
–Kings Bend is where old canal swung N toward French Rd and on to downtown Rochester

Third photo is the Main Danube Canal north of Nuremberg, Bavaria –canal was completed c1993
–Mr. Grasso took the image in c. 2008

Fourth picture is the Great Embankment from c2000

Final picture – looking south to Furth—Main-Danube Canal








« Last Edit: March 27, 2022, 04:37:01 am by Michael Caswell »

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Doug K

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Re: Erie Canal EXPERT expresses his opinion!
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2021, 12:54:19 pm »
And the sixth image, do you know what earthen dam that is?

It is the Brockport East Dam, running about 1.2 miles east, from the Park Avenue Lift Bridge. It ranges in height between 7' to 27', and has been fully cleared, re-sloped replanted with grass, and has barrier vegetation planted, all part of the promised EERP Restoration process.

The stone section is standard protection for a dive culvert located there, that runs under the Erie Canal. Culvert number 57 I believe.

It looks much better than the ragged mess it used to be, most people agree, though some minor issues with dam refurbishment that are still being worked through of course.



« Last Edit: October 25, 2021, 01:03:39 pm by Doug K »

Michael Caswell

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« Last Edit: June 10, 2022, 12:32:14 pm by Michael Caswell »

Doug K

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Sadly Tom Grasso has passed away, his expertise on all things Erie Canal will be missed by many, including the NYS Canal Corporation and Erie Canal Society



NYS Canal Corp (6/7/2022) - @NYSCanalCorp Twitter Feed
Our hearts are heavy today as we remember our beloved friend Professor Tom Grasso. Tom became President of the NYS Canal Society in 1979, retiring in 2016 & was named President Emeritus. We all learned so much from Tom over the years and are forever grateful to him for sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge of our state’s Canal system—as well as his infectious passion for the iconic Erie Canal.


https://www.democratandchronicle.com/obituaries/rdc173338

Doug K

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Perhaps these thoughts about the Erie Canal, shared by Mr. Grasso here, are the most important statements being made, about how safety is the key with Embankment Integrity clearing.

Therefore the canal today, as it was in the past, is a huge, vital, economic component of our daily lives and our quality of life. Keeping those sections of the canal, well above the general “lay of the land” safe, is crucial to the future viability of our canal system.

The fact is that treeless embankments are safer than treed ones. The issue is safety! This is a common “best practice” for any properly-managed and well-maintained canal system. I have, over the years, examined in the field and researched numerous canals both here in North America and Europe – those in Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Czech Republic, and Serbia among the most notable.

They all have virtually treeless embankments signifying that the overwhelming majority of well-schooled canal engineers, here and abroad, adhere to this practice. These engineers are the experts whose first responsibility is to protect the public’s welfare, and I have found these men and women to be of the highest integrity and thoroughly knowledgeable.


And in this statement Mr. Grasso restates the case that Erie Canal Earthen Embankments are actually properly termed as "Dams"

Although the principle of “trees on canal embankments is dangerous” may seem counter-intuitive to many people, thousands of civil engineers worldwide can’t possibly be wrong. As Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan so eloquently stated – one is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.

In Germany, officials use the term Damm when referring to a canal embankment. They are not being duplicitous or attempting to “pull the wool” over the public’s eyes, they are precisely calling it what it is – an earth dam retaining water.

Therefore when the Canal Corporation uses the term earth dam for a canal embankment it is completely accurate.


And maybe the most powerful statement is about how the New York Power Authority has taken responsibility to repair the Erie Canal safety issues that have been ignored for some 80 years, asking the key question, and making a powerful statement.

Let’s give some credit to the New York Power Authority for trying to catch-up on a huge backlog of maintenance issues – a significant cost to them. Do we really think that any government agency will spend hordes of money on a project just to anger, if not enrage, the public?

One of the Power Authority’s priorities is public safety and risk management.


Finally, Tom Grasso makes the valid point that Erie Canal safety & scenery will be improved, as a direct result of embankment clearing work, and that is the way the canal was meant to be viewed.


Lastly canal embankments are both strikingly beautiful and splendidly stunning engineering achievements. So one of the side benefits of proposed cutting is that the embankments will be brought into clear focus, amplifying their existing splendor now masked and muted by the vegetative cover. Today people can glide across one of these embankments on a boat or bike or walk across on the trail alongside and have no perception of being on a high embankment perhaps tens or scores of feet above a valley floor or adjacent landscape below.

Consequently, once cleared of trees, the public’s experience will be enriched because from the tops of embankments, there will now be vistas of the land, roads and creeks below, unknown since perhaps the 1940’s. Looking down on the tops of trees will definitely increase your awareness of and appreciation for the impressive achievements of the engineers who designed and the laborers who constructed them.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2022, 07:46:31 am by Doug K »