2013 DOT Year in Review: Cargo flows on Saint Lawrence Seaway
On the Saint Lawrence Seaway, the binational waterway we operate in partnership with Canada, the end of the calendar year also means the end of the navigation season. And 2013 was another busy year on the Seaway.
In fact, activity at our Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation in Massena, NY, never slows down, even after the locks are closed. Because when the navigation season ends, the repair, maintenance, and upgrade work begins. And 2013 was no different as we continued our Asset Renewal Program. Last winter, workers at the Eisenhower and Snell Locks were on the job around the clock to install an ice flushing system at Snell, rehabilitate a miter gate at Eisenhower, and upgrade the valve operating machinery at both locks before the Seaway reopened to vessel traffic in late March.
The Great Lakes and Seaway system supports 227,000 jobs and annually generates nearly $34 billion in revenue, so reopening on time is essential. We know by the number of vessels transiting the Seaway and the volume of cargo they carry that this waterway is a vital artery for the U.S economy.
2013 proved another active year, marking the system’s 55th navigation season. U.S. ports on the Great Lakes outperformed their projections, and through November, the Seaway reported that total cargo shipments reached 33 million metric tons. U.S. grain has been a consistent bright spot throughout the shipping season. Through November, 1.4 million metric tons of U.S. grain moved through the System to markets around the globe, representing a 17 percent increase year-to-date over 2012.
In addition to volume, we've also advanced the environmental integrity of the System. Earlier this month, for example, Deputy Administrator Craig Middlebrook was designated a "Partner of the Office of Water" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He deserves a great deal of credit for helping the EPA overcome some of the larger hurdles the agency has faced in implementing its ballast water management program. Thanks in part to his leadership, there has been a substantial decrease in the numbers of invasive species detected in the region, with no new invaders documented in the last six years.
Also during 2013, we recognized seven ports where activity increased significantly from 2011 to 2012. Ports earning the Robert J.Lewis Pacestter Award included the Port of Green Bay, the Port of Milwaukee, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, the Port of Oswego, and the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority.
Finally, 2013 was a big Seaway year for me personally as I was sworn in as Administrator in August. Coming from the Great Lakes region, I fully appreciate the importance of the Seaway System not only to international commerce and to our national transportation system, but to the economic vitality of the states and communities along this important waterway.
And I am committed to working with the great team at the SLSDC to continue the Seaway's proud service in 2014 and well beyond.
Betty Sutton is Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.