In past Seaway Compass columns, I have highlighted the importance and significance of the ongoing enhancements to the U.S. and Canadian Seaway locks under our respective asset renewal programs.
Yet, the Seaway is not the only organization in the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway System (GLSLS) making significant investments in new opportunities for 2018 and beyond.
In 2017, many U.S. Great Lakes ports identified, developed, secured, and promoted bold new initiatives within their communities, providing new business opportunities that are benefiting their local and regional economies.
Projects on the Great Lakes
The Duluth Seaway Port Authority, partnering with Lake Superior Warehousing, launched its Duluth Cargo Connect initiative in 2017. An innovative new approach to intermodal connectivity on the Great Lakes, Duluth Cargo Connect provides “seamless cargo handling, storage, distribution and transportation logistics services for breakbulk, heavy lift and other project cargoes.” The Duluth Cargo Connect initiative provides customers at the Port of Duluth-Superior with integrated connectivity, through the new CN Rail/Duluth Intermodal terminal, to Great Lakes, East, West, and Gulf Coast destinations as well.
At the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority, another major announcement occurred in summer 2017. Cliffs Natural Resources, a Cleveland-based company, announced its intent to establish a new hot briquetted iron factory at the Port of Toledo, creating over 100 new jobs and approximately $700 million in new economic development within the area. The Cliffs factory will directly contribute to the manufacturing of U.S. steel and has the capacity to recruit over 100 new vessel shipments to the port.
The innovative Cleveland Europe Express (CEE) initiative at the Port of Cleveland, continues to be an important initiative aimed at increasing containerized and breakbulk shipments between the Great Lakes and Europe, specifically the Port of Antwerp. This year marks the fifth year of operations for the CEE, and the Spliethoff fleet of vessels that service the CEE is making additional calls at ports throughout the GLSLS while sustaining its dedicated sailing schedule into Cleveland.
The idea of a Great Lakes Shuttle Service between the Ports of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Muskegon, Michigan is progressing after being awarded the first U.S. Maritime Administration marine highway designation on Lake Michigan (M-90 Marine Highway). The proposed service will provide a dedicated commercial shipping route directly linking Wisconsin and western Michigan, providing shippers in the region with a new, competitive, efficient, and reliable alternative to road-based congestion in the greater Chicago area.
The Port of Green Bay, Wisconsin remains the primary method for delivering liquid bulk fuel products into Northeast Wisconsin. The permanent closure of the West Shore pipeline in May 2016 eliminated a 50+ year old delivery route between Milwaukee and Green Bay. As such, imported delivery of petroleum to the Port via the Great Lakes has proven critical in establishing a vital new maritime supply chain, helping to keep homes in Wisconsin heated during the chilly winter months.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. These are just a few of the many exciting opportunities and initiatives happening across the GLSLS region now and in the months to come. Seaway stakeholders and customers alike are sure to benefit greatly from a modernizing vision of the Great Lakes and the added value our ports are providing to their communities, the region, and the world. Stay tuned for even more “opportunities” to come from our U.S. Great Lakes ports!