Welland Canal Opening to Establish New Record

February 20, 2007

Cornwall, February 20, 2007 – The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) will open the Welland Canal on March 20th, establishing a record for the earliest opening date.  The decision to open on the 20th stems partially from Seaway clients requesting an earlier start, and was made after carefully reviewing maintenance schedules and environmental considerations.

“Our system enjoyed excellent traffic results in 2006.  We are building on this momentum and extending a number of incentives to encourage more shippers to utilize the Seaway” stated Richard Corfe, President and CEO of the SLSMC.  “Within our system’s existing locks and channels, we have the capacity to increase our cargo volume by over 60 percent.  This opportunity is very significant, in light of clogged land-based arteries and an increasing desire among organizations to improve their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission performance.”

Mr. Corfe’s U.S. counterpart, Collister (“Terry”) Johnson, Jr., Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, concurred.  “The Seaway continues to play a vital role as a gateway connecting North America’s manufacturing and agricultural heartland markets to global commerce,” he said.  “The new navigation season historically focuses on staple bulk cargoes, but we’re excited about the sustained improvements in project cargo trade, especially strong growth in petroleum-mining activities in Alberta and wind turbines.”

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the fourth Welland Canal, which predates the St. Lawrence Seaway.  The Welland Canal was an engineering marvel at its inception and today the Seaway, as a whole, is yet again on the vanguard of technology.  Improvements underway include the testing of a hands-free vessel mooring system, a vessel self-spotting system to enable crew members on the bridge to precisely judge their approach into a lock, and a sophisticated 3D charting system which provides an accurate model of the channel bottom, with the potential to enhance navigation and available vessel draft.

The Montreal / Lake Ontario section of the Seaway is slated to open on March 21st.  Opening and closing dates are set after careful deliberation, taking into account a host of factors and the interests of a diverse group of stakeholders.