Blasting begins at Erie Canal lock

TRIBES HILL – Explosives are being detonated at Lock 12 along the Erie Canal to help remove a massive concrete wall that was damaged from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

The blasts are part of an $8.1 million construction project by the state Canal Corp., which has hired contractors to do the work. The concrete lower approach wall being taken down this week will be replaced this winter, officials said.

The contract calls for the removal of 485 feet of approach walls. A?total of 335 feet of the construction will require the use of explosives, officials said.

Rick Sager, the Montgomery County interim emergency management director, said using explosives makes the task easier.

“It’s easier to blast [the wall] into smaller pieces rather than try to jackhammer it,” Sager said.

Once the wall is broken into smaller parts, it will further be demolished and carried away.

Wall sections being blasted will be covered with blasting mats to contain explosive debris, the Canal Corp. said.

Contractors are using audible warning signals before all detonations.

Sager said the blasts should be “fairly quiet.”

The main contractor for the project is D.A. Collins, based in Wilton. The blasting subcontractor is Alpha Drilling and Blasting from Queensbury.

The Canal Corp. said this construction is unrelated to a movable dam project at Lock 13. Lock 13’s movable dam has been undergoing a $15.5 million rehabilitation since 2010.

The work at Lock 12 will have no effect the movable dam, officials said.

Sager said the blasts at Lock 12 will only minimally disrupt residents.

“Traffic will not be interfered with,” Sager said. “It might slow things down a bit when the actual work on the bridge is being done. There will be one lane, and during the blasting, they might stop traffic for a couple of minutes until the whole blast is finished.”

The replacement wall will be finished between March and April, and the whole project is expected to be finished by June 2015.