MASSENA — Despite late-season ice that slowed the start of St. Lawrence Seaway shipping season, traffic has rebounded since to surpass that of a year ago.
Total cargo shipments to date this season on the Seaway are up 3 percent over the same period in 2013, according to a binational association that represents more than 150 stakeholders along the system.
The Chamber of Marine Commerce said in a statement Thursday that total cargo tonnage from March 25 to Aug. 31 reached 20 million metric tons, which represented a 3 percent increase over last year. The increase comes despite a late ice coverage on the shipping channel that hindered transits into mid-April.
“The fact that Seaway shipments have not only recovered after the season’s icy start, but have now surpassed 2013 levels, is testament to the navigation system’s resiliency,” Stephen Brooks, president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce, said in the statement.
According to the association, the recovery was fueled by grain exports, increases in road salt inventories for municipalities along the Great Lakes and an influx of specialty steel and other metals for the automotive and construction industries. Construction materials such as stone and cement also have been in strong demand.
Total grain shipments, including both U.S. and Canadian, have reached 5.6 million metric tons, up 73 percent over last year. U.S. grain has totaled 630,000 metric tons so far this season, up 13 percent. General cargo tonnage, including specialty steel imports, as well as aluminum and oversized project cargo such as machinery and wind turbines, has topped 1.5 million tons, up 66 percent, according to the association.
“Vessels have been extremely busy carrying grain for export, steel and aluminum for the U.S. automotive industry and materials for construction and this level of activity is expected to continue until the end of the year,” Mr. Brooks said.