Chesterton Tribune

St. Lawrence Seaway closed a record 284 day season December 30

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The St. Lawrence Seaway closed for the season on Dec. 30, with the westbound vessel Algoma Spirit reaching Lake Ontario at 7:54 a.m. after having transited the locks on the St. Lawrence River, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SSMC) said in a statement released today.

The Seaway’s 53rd navigation season commenced on March 22 and the system remained open for a record 284 days, exceeding by one day the previous record set in 2006.

The tug/barge combination John Spence/Niagara Spirit was the last vessel to transit the Welland Canal, clearing Port Colborne at 8:26 p.m. Dec. 30 on its way to Lake Erie.

“The St. Lawrence Seaway’s positive momentum remained intact in 2011, with tonnage volumes rising by 2.5 percent to reach an estimated 37.5 million tons,” the statement said. “Trade patterns exhibited a number of changes, most notably with iron ore and coal becoming export commodities due to strong overseas demand. Grain volumes decreased overall by some 6.4 percent due to a decrease in the amount of U.S. grain moving via the Seaway. Strong increases in the volume of bulk liquids, salt, and scrap metal contributed to an overall cargo increase of 930,000 tons for the system’s 2011 season.”

SSMC President and CEO Terence Bowles noted that the year saw significant progress on a number of fronts. “We recognize that while some of our core markets remain under pressure, work is progressing in terms of diversifying our market base, containing our costs, and increasing the system’s productivity,” he said. “Over the last four years, our market development efforts have generated $12.5 million in new business revenue.”

“In addition to advances in cargo volumes, we achieved a good deal of progress in 2011 on a number of other fronts,” Bowles added. “In October of 2011, a new three-year labor agreement was ratified, extending to March 31, 2014. We reached a fair settlement that controls our costs and ensures that our customers can continue to experience reliable service.”

“This is the second consecutive year of increases in Seaway traffic and tonnage, reflecting the resilience of the North American economy,” said Collister Johnson Jr., administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

A recently published economic impact study, commissioned by Marine Delivers, demonstrates the significant role that the Great Lakes/Seaway system plays in supporting the Canadian and U.S. economies. Some 227,000 jobs and $34 billion in economic activity are supported by the movement of goods within the Great Lakes/Seaway waterway. Since its inception in 1959, over 2.5 billion tons valued in excess of $375 billion has been transported via the Seaway.

For more information on the Seaway, including access to the full text of the economic impact study, please consult the


Posted 1/17/2012