Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne met yesterday to discuss their ongoing partnership to grow the economy and create jobs.
On behalf of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers, they released the first-ever regional strategy to jumpstart the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence maritime transportation system.
The strategy’s objectives are to double maritime trade, shrink the environmental footprint of the region’s transportation network, and support the region’s industrial core.
Once fully implemented, the strategy will help grow the region’s maritime sector, which already contributes more than US$30 billion to the U.S. and Canadian economies and accounts for more than 220,000 jobs.
The strategy includes a blend of policies, programs and projects to rejuvenate the regional maritime system. Ten-year implementation of the strategy is estimated at US$3.8 billion based on preliminary analysis.
The states and provinces will work with other levels of government, industry and other stakeholders to advance implementation of the recommendations over the longer term.
Specific recommendations include:
- Constructing a second “Poe Class” Lock in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, to ensure the movement of vital raw materials like iron ore and coal. The feasibility of a second hydropower plant should be examined, including the potential of using revenue for future lock maintenance and construction;
- Clearing the system’s dredging backlog to ensure transit for fully loaded vessels;
- Dredging the system’s critical chokepoint – the St. Marys River – to its authorized depth of 27 feet, while a longer-term, system-wide analysis of bottlenecks is completed to make sure dredging dollars are used most efficiently;
- Developing recommendations for a treaty or other binding agreement between the U.S. and Canada to cooperatively manage the regional maritime system, and harmonize regulations across levels of governments;
- Expediting the movement of goods and people across the U.S.-Canada border by streamlining the customs clearance process for cruise passengers and maritime cargo.