Officials managing the St. Lawrence Seaway have scheduled its spring reopening to navigation over a week later than in recent years, on March 31.
Both the Montreal-Lake Ontario segment of the seaway and the Welland Canal segment are scheduled to open at 8 a.m. that day, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. said in a notice to shippers Tuesday.
The United States’ Soo Locks are to reopen March 25, the company added.
Vessel transits will be subject to weather and ice conditions, the company said, and restrictions may apply in some areas until lighted navigation aids have been installed.
The reopenings for the Montreal-Lake Ontario stretches and the Welland Canal, if they proceed as scheduled, come over a week later than their reopenings in 2008, which were March 22 and March 20, respectively. The Montreal-Lake Ontario stretch opened March 21 in 2007, after the Welland Canal reopened March 20.
The seaway’s 2008 season ran 280 days in total, ending Dec. 30 with a Coast Guard vessel passing through the St. Lambert Lock.
As of Dec. 31, 2008, when the Welland Canal stretch of the seaway shut its gates for the season, seaway grain traffic for 2008 stood at 7.57 million tonnes, down 27 per cent from 10.41 million in 2007.
The Montreal/Lake Ontario stretch of the seaway handled 7.26 million tonnes of grain, down from 10.1 million in 2007, while the Welland Canal handled 6.89 million tonnes, down from 9.92 million in 2007.
The seaway corporation plans to mark the waterway’s 50th anniversary season this year with a special ceremony at the St. Lambert Lock in March. Queen Elizabeth II and U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower opened the lock at Montreal in June 1959.