If you're part of DOT's Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, or if you live along the Great Lakes, today is the real first day of spring.
Why? Because today in St. Lambert, Quebec, SLSDC Acting Administrator Craig Middlebrook joined his counterpart, Terence Bowles of Canada's Seaway Management Corporation, to open the binational waterway for its 55th navigation season.
With the newly built Baie St. Paul transiting the St. Lambert Lock, the Seaway was declared officially open. Depending on the weather--and despite the calendar, snow is still a distinct possibility on the Seaway--the vessel is expected to transit the two U.S. locks in New York State later tonight or tomorrow.
We're happy to see the debut of a new vessel series being built specifically for use in the St. Lawrence Seaway. The new vessels promise to burn 15 percent less fuel and will emit significantly less carbon into the atmosphere on and near the Seaway.
We're even more excited by the outlook for Seaway freight volume this season, with the total for 2013 expected to top 40 million metric tons.
As Acting Administrator Middlebrook said, "The resurgence of manufacturing in North America is fueling demand for both traditional and new Seaway cargoes, with positive implications for Great Lakes shipping."
Companies seeking to boost their supply chain’s sustainability are also taking note of the smaller carbon footprint Seaway shipping makes possible.
The shipping lines aren't the only ones investing in the Seaway. During the past few months, SLSDC has been working hard on both winter maintenance and long-term asset improvements. "Just as the private sector is investing in new vessels and new engines," said Acting Administrator Middlebrook, "public sector investments in lock rehabilitation, port infrastructure, and new navigation technologies are laying the foundation for sustained future growth.”
What's the value of DOT's commitment to the St. Lawrence Seaway? More than 227,000 jobs and $35 billion in economic activity are supported by the movement of goods within the Great Lakes-Seaway System.
The SLSDC and DOT think that's pretty important, and we hope you do, too. Best of luck to the mariners, shippers, and Seaway operators in the 2013 navigation season.