St. Lawrence Seaway closes for winter
U.S. and Canadian authorities that manage vessel operations along the St. Lawrence Seaway said the shipping lane will close for the winter Dec. 29.
The seaway opened its 45th shipping season March 31 and remained opened for 273 days in 2003.
“Although we aren’t setting any tonnage records yet, traffic was steady throughout the season and made substantial gains this fall,” said Richard Corfe, president of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. “The laker fleet was solidly booked right through to the end of the season.”
In 2003, the estimated combined cargo passing through the Welland Canal and the Montreal/Lake Ontario sections of the system was about 41 million metric tons, about 1.3 percent less than 2002.
“Iron ore was again a strong performer, with cargoes amounting to 10.87 metric tons, up by 12.8 percent,” the seaway authorities said. “Although Canadian grain increased by more than 6 percent, overall grain shipments declined by 6.1 percent. General cargo dropped by 37 percent compared to 2002 while other bulk cargo decreased by approximately 5 percent.”
The seaway closes during the winter for maintenance on its 13 locks and connecting channels. This year’s winter works program includes $7.8 million in the Montreal/Lake Ontario section and $16.2 million on the Welland Canal. Work will include improvements to bridges, locks, communications and power facilities, roads, weirs and walls.
The seaway navigation season for 2004 is expected to start in March.