With 2012 right around the corner, we're sharing some of the top accomplishments from each of DOT's agencies this year. Today, we look at the St. Lawrence Seaway.
I’ve written many times before about how the St. Lawrence Seaway is a key part of our national transportation system, providing an important passageway for American exports out of the Great Lakes region. And today, the Seaway officially closes for the winter season, ending a very successful and productive 2011 navigation year.
Now, don’t be fooled into thinking this seasonal closing means it's a slow time at the Seaway. In fact, just the opposite is true: winter is a time for Seaway professionals to perform crucial infrastructure maintenance in preparation for next year.
And while they’re gearing up for 2012, here are just a few accomplishments from this past year that our team at the Seaway can be proud of:
- Great Lakes Seaway System economic impact study completed.
In October, a new study was released that found the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway navigation system supports over 225,000 jobs and generates billions of dollars in income and revenues annually in both the U.S. and Canada. This comprehensive report, “The Economic Impacts of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System 2010,” illustrates what we’ve long known--that the St. Lawrence Seaway is crucial to the U.S. economy.
- Asset Renewal Program keeps investing in Seaway infrastructure.
In 2011, DOT’s Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) continued modernizing and investing in the Seaway's infrastructure as part of its 10-year Asset Renewal Program. Projects this year included upgrades to the electronic distribution equipment at both locks and rehabilitation of gates at the Eisenhower Lock. These renewal efforts help ensure the future availability and reliability of this crucial economic channel.
- Ballast Water Management Program continues protecting Great Lakes ecosystem.
In 2011, the SLSDC continued its leadership role in protecting marine life in the Great Lakes through its successful ballast water management program. In a new report issued this year by the SLSDC, the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Ninth District, and Transport Canada, the Seaway’s inspection program was publicly credited as a key factor in preventing the establishment of any new aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes since 2006--the longest such period of non-detection on record.
I hope the professionals working at the St. Lawrence Seaway are as proud of this past year’s accomplishments as I am. I wish them a very productive winter maintenance period and look forward to the Seaway’s planned reopening in late March for what promises to be yet another safe and successful navigation year.