Expansion and new business expected for U.S. Great Lakes ports in 2018

As the St. Lawrence Seaway opened March 29, U.S. Great Lakes ports geared up for a busy 2018 shipping season fueled by new business and infrastructure expansion.

“We have great potential to build on the recent economic momentum of Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway shipping. 2017 was a major turnaround with significant cargo increases fueled by global economic recovery,” said Bruce Burrows, President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce, the binational association that represents more than 130 marine industry stakeholders. “We expect 2018 to be another strong year in shipping. U.S. Great Lakes ports have made significant investments in infrastructure and services that are attracting new business to their respective regions and facilitating American cross-border and international trade.”

The Port of Cleveland saw a 20 percent increase in international tonnage in 2017; something port officials are cautiously optimistic will carry into 2018.

“We are in the planning stage for the expansion of our main gate at the International Cargo Terminal, which will double the size of the gate complex, enabling faster and more efficient truck movements,” said David Gutheil, Vice-President/Maritime & Logistics for the Port of Cleveland. “We have positive signs of continued growth with some early bookings that represent new business for the port. Our port continues to see increased container business moving on the Cleveland-Europe Express, and are specifically focusing on export cargoes.” 

The 2017 shipping season ended rather abruptly in the Port of Toledo, due to inclement weather.

“We are also hopeful that the gains made during the 2017 shipping season continue into 2018,” said Joe Cappel, Vice President, Business Development. “We’re getting many inquiries for project cargo handling opportunities for projects related to the energy industry and the new Cliffs HBI Plant. There are also indications that iron ore, grain and other bulk materials will be on par or slightly better than last year. Aluminum shipments into Toledo should remain strong so long as there are no major changes in trade policy.”

Iron ore shipments through the Port of Duluth-Superior wrapped up last season on a high note, topping 19.7 million short tons, making 2017 the strongest season in a decade for domestic and international movements of iron ore.

“Manufacturing and steelmaking sectors look strong heading into the first half of this year, which bodes well for the Twin Ports to start the 2018 shipping season on an upbeat note,” said Adele Yorde, Public Relations Director for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “With our recent dock expansion and new service offerings, Duluth Cargo Connect also anticipates a brisk pace for project cargo plus continued increases in containerized freight movements through our new CN Duluth Intermodal Terminal.”

Lake Michigan is predicted to have high water levels this spring, something the Port of Green Bay is looking forward to.

“Higher water levels mean boats can get in and out of the harbors easier while carrying more cargo,” said Port Director Dean Haen. “The port is anxiously waiting the opening of the shipping season for all of our existing terminals and the addition of RGL Holdings this summer.”

RGL Holdings will be moving foreign wood products into Northeast Wisconsin who has a rich history as a paper manufacturer.

Maritime Editorial