On Friday, Rep. Marcy Kaptur stood with me aboard the US Coast Guard cutter Mobile Bay and said, about the St. Lawrence Seaway: "It is really our lifeline for waterborne commerce to the world."
While Rep. Kaptur may not have been speaking for those who don't live in the Great Lakes area, the Toledo Blade reports that the Seaway "sustains about 150,000 jobs in America and Canada." That's nothing for any of us to sneeze at, no matter where we live.
The reality is the Seaway connects the heartlands of America with ports around the world. It is indeed a lifeline, and attending its 50th anniversary celebration was eye-opening.
Lots of interesting moments at the celebration: standing aboard the Mobile Bay in the Eisenhower Lock; waiting for the lock's valves to drain away 22 million gallons of water; feeling the vessel being lowered 44 feet in only 7 minutes; listening to former US Army Corps of Engineers Project Engineer and Chief Engineer John B. Adams III speak about the many challenges Seaway builders faced.
But, the Seaway is not some artifact; it is a living waterway, and to keep our heartlands connected to trade routes, and to keep those 150,000 people employed, we need to keep the Seaway thriving.
As US Seaway Administrator Collister Johnson, Jr., said:
Maritime transport has changed dramatically over the last 50 years, so the Seaway must adapt to new technology and new markets. Our two governments have committed hundreds of millions of dollars to Seaway infrastructure, and our users are investing billions of dollars in new Seaway-sized ships. The Seaway must remain relevant to their needs.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, remembered the Seaway fondly as one of those accomplishments people said he would never pull off. By maintaining the Seaway's competitiveness, we honor President Eisenhower's memory.