$1.2 Billion in Public Infrastructure
Both the U.S. and Canadian governments are making historic investments in infrastructure asset renewal. Their focus is to ensure the reliability of the system’s 16 locks by repairing concrete, replacing gates, upgrading electrical and hydraulic systems, and deploying new technology.
U.S. and Canadian Seaway – Asset Renewal Program
$910 million investment
In 2008/2009, the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) and the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) initiated multi-year Asset Renewal Programs (ARP) for their respective navigation infrastructure and facilities.
The goal of the concurrent binational programs is to ensure the long-term integrity of the Seaway and improve infrastructure reliability. The projects and equipment included in the programs address various needs for the 15 U.S. and Canadian Seaway locks, as well as for bridges, tunnels, navigation channels, operational systems, and facilities and equipment. These investments mark the first time in the Seaway’s 55 year history that a coordinated effort to repair and modernize the government-owned infrastructure has taken place.
During the 2008-2013 timeframe, the SLSDC and SLSMC invested approximately $300 million in projects to renew and/or modernize their assets. Over the course of the next five years (concluding in 2018), the two Seaway entities are expected to invest an additional $610 million in asset renewal projects. These significant investments demonstrate the commitment of both countries to the long-term health and vitality of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System.
Major U.S. and/or Canadian Seaway infrastructure project investments include:
- Replacement of 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometres) of timber tie-up walls in the Canadian Welland Canal.
- Rehabilitation of lock gates and approach walls at all 15 locks.
- Installation of a hands free mooring system at all 13 high-lift locks to enable ships to be secured during a lock transit by means of three double-pad vacuum mooring units, thus eliminating the need for traditional wire or rope mooring lines.
- Maintenance dredging of Seaway navigation channels to remove sediment and to maintain the design grade for the channel bottom.
- Gatelifter upgrades and tug boat replacements.
- Lock culvert valve machinery upgrades to hydraulic operation.
- Installation of an ice flushing system at the U.S. Snell Lock to be used during the waterway’s opening and closing periods when ice is present to quickly and efficiently flush the lock chamber before vessels enter.
About the Seaway Corporations
Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) is a wholly owned federal government corporation created by statute in 1954, to construct, operate, and maintain that part of the St. Lawrence Seaway between the Port of Montreal and Lake Erie, within the territorial limits of the United States, which also performs environmental management activities and promotes Great Lakes regional trade and economic development. The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) is a not-for-profit corporation responsible for the safe and efficient movement of marine traffic through the Canadian Seaway facilities, which consists of 13 of the 15 locks between Montreal and Lake Erie. Both Seaway entities encourage the development of trade through the Great Lakes-Seaway system, which contributes to the comprehensive economic and environmental development of the entire Great Lakes region.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Soo Lock Rehabilitation
$116 million investment
Located in northern Michigan, the lock complex at Sault Ste. Marie (“Soo Locks”) enables ships to navigate the St. Marys River, which connects Lake Superior and Lake Huron. There are two operating locks at the Soo: the MacArthur Lock and the Poe Lock. Through this critical infrastructure, Great Lakes commercial vessels carry iron ore and other raw materials for the region’s steel industry, agricultural products destined for export markets, and low-sulfur coal fuelling the region’s electric utilities. Each year, 80 million tons of cargo passes through the Soo Locks.
The Corps of Engineers has initiated a multi-year Soo Locks Asset Renewal Plan to modernize the lock infrastructure and ensure reliability of the waterway. Under the program, the Poe Lock hydraulics system is to be completely replaced. The deteriorating hydraulic systems at the Poe were responsible for multiple lock outages between 2008-2012. The new system will have four hydraulic power units, each of which will be equipped with a backup pump and motor. A new air compressor system, which is critical for controlling ice at the locks was installed in 2013. Additional work includes Poe Lock electrical rehabilitation, replacement of the Poe gates and modernization of the MacArthur Lock by updating the electrical and controls system and installing interlocks.
About the Corps of Engineers
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approximately 37,000 dedicated civilians and soldiers delivering engineering services to customers in more than 130 countries worldwide. In the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, the Corps is responsible for directing federal water resource development in the Great Lakes and Ohio River basins, which consists of seven engineer districts that operate in a seventeen state area. The Corps’ missions include planning, construction and operations of navigation structures and flood damage reduction, hydropower, environmental restoration, water conservation, recreation and disaster assistance.