Welland Canal open for business

by Canadian Shipper

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. –The Welland Canal has officially opened for its 177th year of service. This year’s opening date also establishes a new record for the earliest opening of the Welland Canal, said officials.

The opening date is the result of careful planning and coordination by the Seaway’s engineering staff and will allow Seaway shipping clients to get a “head start” on the shipping season. The Montreal-Lake Ontario section of the canal will open on March 23.

“In 2005, overall tonnage on the Seaway remained steady at 43.5 million tonnes, while vessel transits increased by approximately 250” said Michel Drolet, Vice-President of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, Niagara Region. “We were very pleased with the results of the flexible toll structure program which was introduced in 2005 to encourage new cargo on the Welland Canal. It succeeded in attracting over 215,000 tonnes of additional cargo to the system, most of which was shipped on smaller size vessels.”

At the ceremony, Drolet was joined by Rick Dykstra, MP for St. Catharines, Bruce Timms, representing Regional Chair Peter Partington, Susan Erskine, Deputy Mayor of St. Catharines, and other elected officials. Mirek Gassowski, President of Fettes Shipping which manages and operates the tug and barge units for St. Mary’s Cement Corporation, was also in attendance.

Momentum is building behind short sea shipping as a means to deal with congested land based arteries, said officials. The Seaway’s HwyH2O campaign, entering its third season, aims to highlight the potential that the marine mode offers in complementing existing road and rail intermodal networks.

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