The St. Lawrence Seaway is under a lot of pressure. Not only because 225,000 jobs are supported by this navigation system – more than three times the number of people squeezing into Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend for the Super Bowl. And not only because it generates billions of dollars in revenue for the US and Canada.
The St. Lawrence Seaway is under a lot of pressure because 21 million gallons of its water have been drained in order to maintain and repair the two American locks for the upcoming navigation season.
On Wednesday, local elected officials and media got a rare peek into these goings on when Seaway Administrator Collister Johnson, Jr., took them on a tour of the temporarily empty Snell Lock.
The draining of the lock is all part of the Seaway's infrastructure Asset Renewal Program started in 2009. This $180 million project has 70 contractors from 10 firms working on the Snell and Eisenhower locks. The crucial maintenance and repair these crews are tasked with keeps the lock system's machinery working efficiently and ensures that our important bi-national waterway stays open for navigation.
These crews are repairing a system that supports thousands of jobs and billions of dollars each year. So they're under a little pressure, too.
Footage courtesy http://centralny.ynn.com
The Seaway's asset renewal is already having an impact on the economy of upstate New York. In the first three years of the program, 70% of the funds stayed in region, funding the 10 contracting firms and workers refurbishing the locks. As Administrator Johnson said, “the Asset Renewal Program is producing approximately $2.5 million in additional economic benefits to the region each year. These benefits are realized in local permanent and temporary jobs and in local spending on supplies, equipment, lodging, and meals.”
The St. Lawrence Seaway may be under a lot of pressure right now, but the work that's underway will allow the locks to continue to support tens of thousands of jobs and spur economic growth throughout the region. I’d call that positive pressure.