After 190 years, New York's Erie Canal a transformed relic that comes with a hefty cost

The Erie Canal was an engineering marvel when it opened in 1825, linking the Hudson River to the Great Lakes and humming with commerce that opened up the West.

Long ago eclipsed by railroads and interstates, the waterway has for many years been a historical curiosity that's seen waning use by recreational and commercial vessels.

Now a renewed court fight has drawn fresh attention to the 360-mile-long ribbon of channels, lifts and locks between Albany and Buffalo, calling into question whether taxpayers will again have to foot the hefty bill to keep it operating.

A federal court ruled this past week that a suit filed by trucking industry interests should be reinstated. The suit argues the use of highway tolls to subsidize the canal system is unfair.