As described by the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. (SLSMC), the final link of the waterway was begun in 1954 and completed in 1959. The joint American-Canadian navigational project links Duluth, Minn., along 2,340 miles, to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, into the Atlantic Ocean, through a system consisting of lakes, rivers, deepened channels, locks and canals.
Taking an optimistic view, the Seaway points out that with its existing locks and channels it has capacity to increase cargo volumes by more than 60%. “Over the course of the 2006 navigation season,” notes Guy Yelle, regional director of the Seaway's Maisonneuve Region, “ our system had a 99.6% availability record. This level of reliability validates the proactive maintenance program we conduct every year, the dedication of our employees, and the use of new technology that allows us to operate in virtually all weather conditions during our navigation season.”
“Strong performance within our traditional bulk and breakbulk staple was complemented by a series of new and diversified cargo movements,” claims Richard Corfe, president and CEO of SLSMC. “The technological initiatives that we are undertaking, backed by consistent investments in our employees, prepares us for a future where the Great Lakes/Seaway System--Highway H20--will play a key role as a complement to heavily congested road and rail links within the intermodal cargo network.”
A problem being addressed by SLSMC has to do with environmental issues. It is working with its marine stakeholders to apply stringent solutions to halt discharge of ballast water in the waterways and to curtail import of noxious and hazardous pests into the waters of the Great Lakes/Seaway.