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Shipping Through St. Lawrence Seaway Has Rebounded To Pre-Recession Levels

Experts Say Numbers Bode Well For U.S. Manufacturing


The 2014 shipping season in the Great Lakes ended this month, and it was the best year for traffic since the Great Recession hit.

Just shy of 40 million tons moved through St. Lawrence Seaway during its nine-and-a-half month season, officials said.

Craig Middlebrook, St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. deputy administrator, said cargo shipments haven’t been that high since 2008.

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“A slow start to the season and incredibly strong finish. We moved over 25 percent of the year’s cargo in the last two months of the year, which is strong — very strong,” he said.

Middlebrook said shipments rebounded after the harsh winter. He said ships carried 2.6 million more tons than last year. He said they’re hitting the sweet spot with grain cargo.

“The global demand for North American grains is incredibly high right now and the supply from Canada and the U.S. is there,” he said.

More than 12 million tons of grain moved through the Seaway up 44 percent from last year.

Duluth Seaway Port Authority spokeswoman Adele Yorde said grain shipments are holding their own over last year.

“(In) December, it was up tremendously. We had a lot of late cargoes in December, but we’re about a percent off from where we were in the 2013 shipping season,” she said.

Yorde said around 1.3 million tons of grain moved through the Twin Ports last year.

Green Bay port director Dean Haen said they’re also seeing an uptick in terms of traffic.

“The port has seen 2.3 million metric tons of cargo move through the port, which is our highest tonnage year since 2007,” Haen said.

Haen and Middlebrook said the numbers also bode well for U.S. manufacturing.