ST. LAWRENCE SEAWAY COMMERCIAL TRAFFIC

ST. LAWRENCE SEAWAY COMMERCIAL TRAFFIC

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Combined Upbound and Downbound Tonnage on Key Segments of the St. Lawrence Seaway (monthly data, not seasonally adjusted)

Combined Upbound and Downbound Tonnage on Key Segments of the St. Lawrence Seaway (monthly data, not seasonally adjusted). If you are a user with a disability and cannot view this image, please call 800-853-1351 or email answers@bts.gov for further assistance.

NOTE: Locks close in late December or early January and do not reopen until late March or early April.

The Welland Canal and Montreal-Lake Ontario segments are vital choke points of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Welland Canal connects Lake Erie with Lake Ontario, linking the agricultural regions of the United States and Canada with major population centers to the east and providing an economical means of transporting coal via the Great Lakes. The Montreal-Lake Ontario segment connects Lake Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean, giving North American industries and agriculture access to Atlantic deep water terminals and trans-oceanic shipping.

Although total traffic is roughly equal for both segments, the relative directional flows are different. In 2001, the Montreal-Lake Ontario segment had 51% of total tons flowing upbound and 49% downbound. In contrast, the Welland Canal had 33% of total tons flowing upbound and 67% flowing downbound. Much of the difference comes from more than 4 million tons of coal flowing annually from ports in northern Ohio to Hamilton, Ontario, and other points mostly on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario.

St. Lawrence Seaway Commercial Traffic Oct-01 Oct-02
Welland Canal (thousand tons per day) 119.65 133.45
Percent change from same month previous year -20.91  11.54
Montreal-Lake Ontario (thousand tons per day) 114.68 134.74
Percent change from same month previous year -25.13  17.49

NOTES: All weights are in metric tons. One metric ton equals 1.1023 short tons.

Months which the respective segment is open fewer than five days are excluded.

The St. Lawrence Seaway is co-managed by agencies from the United States and Canada. The Welland Canal has a series of eight locks which are operated by the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) of Canada. The Montreal-Lake Ontario section has a series of seven locks, five of which are operated by the SLSMC and two of which are operated by the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

SOURCES: St. Lawrence Seaway Traffic Report, annual issues (through 2001); "Seaway Monthly Traffic Results," St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (2002 navigation season)