“We have a bunch of very knowledgeable volunteers who are dying to get in on this,” Allen said. “We’ll end up with a product that’s higher-quality ... because people are interested not in the product, but in the project.”
The bulk of boat construction is proposed to take place in Lockport, outdoors where the public can view the process.
There are no timelines spelled out in the offer, but Allen anticipates the packet boat would be ready for launching into the canal by the summer of 2015. Restoration of locks 69 and 70 to working order is scheduled to be complete in late 2014.
Of the two-locks project, Welsby reported that design engineering work by Bergmann Associates is complete and the plans have been submitted to the state Canal Corporation for bid specification writing. Requests for proposals are to be advertised in April and contractors hired in time for a June start.
Welsby said Canal Corporation intends to bid three projects at once — the two-locks restoration project as commissioned by the committee, and two variations of progressively reduced scope — in order to get contracts that stay within the roughly $2 million project budget. The City of Lockport is funding restoration alone, mostly from the balance of an old federal grant; although the locks are state property, the state is not contributing financially.
By Bergmann Associates’ latest current-dollar estimate, restoring the remainder of the Flight series, locks 67, 68 and 71, will cost another $8 million. The city will look to regional charitable foundations to underwrite restoration-part two, according to Mayor Michael Tucker.