OGDENSBURG — U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard vessels have reportedly begun breaking ice along parts of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system in anticipation of the start of the 2019 shipping season this week.
In the first official shipping notice of the season issued by Seaway officials, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. and the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. — the Canadian and U.S. organizations that jointly manage the international waterway — said Welland Canal, connecting Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, will open on Friday.
Likewise, the Montreal and Lake Ontario section of the seaway system — which includes Eisenhower and Snell locks in Massena — will open on March 26, officials said.
Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Executive Director Wade A. Davis said the opening of the shipping season is a positive annual occurrence that provides local jobs and generates millions of dollars in economic activity for the region.
“The opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway System holds great economic opportunities for the region,” Mr. Davis said Friday. “The Port of Ogdensburg welcomes all the jobs and economic activity associated with Seaway as marine commerce remains very cost-competitive as compared to other modes of transportation. The St. Lawrence Seaway provides exceptional value to its users and we look forward to economic gains for the region in the upcoming season.”
The Port of Ogdensburg is the northernmost port in New York, according to Mr. Davis. The port is closer to Northern Europe than most other U.S. ports, making it highly economical for ships to import and export from Ogdensburg.
Cargo handled by the Ogdensburg port over the years includes wind turbine components, electrical generation equipment, transportation equipment, military cargo, zinc concentrate, wollastonite, marble chips, dried distillers grains, road salt, cottonseed, citrus pulp, hominy, corn gluten and other commodities.
Seaway officials point out that early shipping along the waterway can be impacted by weather conditions. In their first advisory of the pending season, officials notified vessels that restrictions may apply in some areas until light navigation aids can be installed,
The seaway system, linking the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River with the Atlantic Ocean, officially opened in 1959, making this year its 60th anniversary.
Last year’s shipping numbers on the Seaway were the best in over a decade. In January the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. said 40.9 million tons of cargo were moved through the international waterway during the 2018 season.
Seaway traffic itself also increased nearly 7 percent on a year-over-year basis, and shipping through the waterway outpaced the previous year in virtually every category, producing the best year on record since 2007, according to officials.
SOURCE: Watertown Daily Times