U.S. and Canadian administrators last week opened the St. Lawrence Seaway for its 55th navigation season after a winter of extensive maintenance and upgrades.
Canada Steamship Lines' new Baie St. Paul
, the first of a series of new fuel-efficient vessels specifically constructed for use in the Seaway, was the first vessel to enter the waterway at a Canadian lock in Montreal.
In addition to normal repair work during the winter, Seaway system operators completed the most difficult and labor-intensive projects since the multi-billion dollar Asset Renewal Program began five years ago. There are 58 projects to overhaul machinery, concrete walls and steel gates that are more than 50 years old, according to a blog post by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. This year an ice flushing system was installed at Snell Lock, a gate at the Eisenhower Lock was rehabilitated and both locks received upgrades to machinery that operates valves.
U.S. administrators anticipate volumes carried on the Seaway this year to exceed 40 million metric tons on the strength of increased U.S. manufacturing. - Eric Kulisch