Congress created the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation in 1954 in response to the creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority by the Canadian Parliament in 1951. Congress authorized American participation in a bi-national Seaway. A legislative compromise limited the lock dimensions to those prescribed in a pre-World War II engineering report. This resulted in locks significantly smaller than those of the Panama Canal and which now preclude a sizable portion of the world's fleet from access to the Great Lakes. This legislation also provided for Seaway tolls to ensure that there would be no Federal transportation subsidy. (Public Law 99-662 now provides that the U.S. portion of any Seaway toll be rebated to users). In the decade from 1962 to 1972 Seaway traffic declined, and has shown little growth since 1966. Grain shipments, which have traditionally accounted for almost 50% of all Seaway traffic, fell from about 30 million (metric) tons in 1980 to 18 million tons in 1985. Shipments of iron ore through the Seaway are experiencing almost no growth. Currently, only 39% of the world's bulk transports and 68.9% of the freighters are able to transit the Seaway locks, and many of these ships must light-load. Only 9.3% of the bulk carriers do not exceed the draft limitation of the locks. Both the Corps of Engineers and the Department of Transportation have recently completed studies of the feasibility of increasing the capacity and the lock size of the Seaway. Both studies, independently, reached essentially the same conclusion--few, if any, benefits would occur. Congress recently appropriated $2 million to complete concrete rehabilitation at the Eisenhower Lock, and has authorized $39 million for the remaining repairs to the Eisenhower and Snell Locks. Canada has announced a seven year $175 million rehabilitation project for the Welland Canal. When completed, this effort by the U.S. and Canada will ensure the structural integrity of the Seaway lock system for a number of years.

  • Record URL:
  • Availability:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper appears in Transportation Research Circular No. 332, Ports, Waterways, Intermodal Terminals, and International Trade Transportation Issues: Proceedings of the 12th Annual Summer Conference, July 7-10, 1987, Norfolk, Virginia. Distribution, posting, or copying of this PDF is strictly prohibited without written permission of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials in this PDF are copyrighted by the National Academy of Sciences. Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Authors:
    • Lougee, D
  • Publication Date: 1988-4

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Pagination: p. 42-45
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00486099
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Aug 31 1989 12:00AM