Tag Archive for 'Michigan'

The St.Lawrence Seaway at 60 – A Vital Waterway 

On its 60th anniversary, the St. Lawrence Seaway is stronger than ever as it performs its mission to move commodities in and out of America’s heartland 

By Deputy Administrator Craig H. Middlebrook 

Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation 

2019 marks the 60th anniversary of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the binational waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes and the heartland of America. How fitting that in this anniversary year, we can talk about the bright future of the Great Lakes Seaway System – North America’s “Fourth Sea Coast”, while celebrating its historic past. 

The Great Lakes economy is a powerhouse on an international level. With a GDP of $6 trillion, the Great Lakes region would be the third largest economy in the world if it were a country. 

State and local economies in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York are benefitting from the surge in shipping in the St. Lawrence Seaway. In 2018, cargo shipping was up 7% in the St. Lawrence Seaway, sustaining over 237,000 jobs in the Great Lakes region in manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and shipping. 

Top performing cargoes included U.S. grain shipments which increased 37% over 2017, liquid bulk shipments which increased 22% over the previous year, and steel slabs which saw a 53% increase. 

We are living in a transformative moment as the Seaway turns 60 this year. Yet, there is one constant that we always begin and end our day with: our focus on safety and reliability. 

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao is clear about her priorities: focus on safety, invest in infrastructure, and promote technological innovation. Those priorities speak to the heart of the mission at the Seaway. 

The 2018 Seaway navigation season was one of the safest on record, a continuation of the long and steady improvement in our safety performance. New technology, newer fleets, a stringent inspection program and highly trained staff all play a key role in our ability to achieve exceptional safety results. 

In 2018, the reliability rate for the lock and channel infrastructure in the St. Lawrence River section of the Seaway remained extremely high. The System Availability rate improved to 98.9 percent from 96.4 in 2017. 

When it comes to safety and reliability, it is important to include the work of the Ballast Water Working Group. The binational group inspects the ballast tanks of incoming ocean vessels to ensure there are no aquatic invasive species in the tanks. Every tank of every international vessel that entered the Seaway System and Great Lakes was inspected, totaling over 9,300 ballast tanks last year. The results in 2018 sustain a track record of effective oversight and acknowledge the strong cooperation of the maritime industry. These results continue to support the fact that “no unmanaged ballast water is coming into the Great Lakes through the Seaway on international vessels.” 

This year also marks the completion of a decade of infrastructure rehabilitation and maintenance work at the U.S. locks under the ground-breaking Seaway Asset Renewal Program. Through the first ten years of this program, the SLSDC has obligated $152 million on 50 separate projects. Several projects involve the implementation of new innovations and improved technologies for the operation of Seaway infrastructure, resulting in reduced maintenance needs and operating costs to Seaway users. 

One of the projects involves the installation of a unique, first-of-its-kind, Hands-Free Mooring (HFM) technology system in the locks. The HFM system uses vacuum pads, each of which provides up to 20 tons of holding force, mounted on vertical rails inside the lock chamber wall to secure the ship during the lockage process as it is raised or lowered while keeping it at a fixed distance from the lock wall. The HFM technology will increase efficiency, improve safety, reduce operating costs to Seaway users, and reduce lock transit times by nearly seven minutes per lockage, equating to 3-4 hours of potential time savings on a roundtrip transit. The use of HFM will also significantly increase the pool of vessels worldwide that will be able to enter the Great Lakes Seaway System. It is arguably the most important technological advance at the Seaway since 1959 and will revolutionize the vessel transit experience through the Seaway. 

With over $35 billion in economic activity and more than 237,000 U.S. and Canadian jobs dependent upon the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System, the waterway is a driver of economic development in the Great Lakes region. 

On its 60th anniversary, the St. Lawrence Seaway is stronger than ever as it performs its mission to move commodities in and out of America’s heartland. 

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Southeastern Equipment Donates CTLs to Team Rubicon for Neighborhood Revitalization Project in Detroit

Donated equipment supports Team Rubicon’s Operation Joe Louis—a revitalization project in the Herman Kiefer Hospital complex and neighborhood of Detroit, Mich.

 

CASE Construction Equipment dealer Southeastern Equipment Co. Inc. donated the use of two TR310 compact track loaders with grapple buckets to Team Rubicon for Operation Joe Louis—an urban blight response project in Detroit, Michigan. Team Rubicon has worked in partnership with the City of Detroit’s Motor City Make-Over event—an annual citywide volunteer cleanup and beautification initiative—and Herman Kiefer Development LLC, to clean up the Herman Kiefer Hospital complex and neighborhood by conducting damage assessments, debris management and home repairs in the area.

Team Rubicon brought in over 100 volunteers and training personnel from around the U.S. to assist local residents in the cleanup effort of their properties, as well as any vacant or abandoned properties adjacent to occupied structures. The CASE TR310 CTLs were used in debris management initiatives during the project, including the removal of fallen or dangerous trees, trash, overgrowth and the consolidation of debris and refuse, as well as the demolition of several garages and other outbuildings.

The City of Detroit has experienced significant economic divestment over the last 50 years, and this isn’t the first time that Team Rubicon has worked in the city. Team Rubicon responded to flooding in the area in 2014 during Operation Flood Wrangler. In 2016, they partnered with Motor City Blight Busters for a revitalization project in the historic Brightmoor neighborhood.

Team Rubicon is a veteran-led disaster response organization that deploys teams globally. Its heavy equipment operators have been trained as part of a partnership with CASE that began in November 2015.

For more information on Team Rubicon, visit TeamRubiconUSA.org. For more information on the partnership between CASE and Team Rubicon, visit CaseCE.com/TeamRubicon.

ACP September Editorial: Highway Bill – No Highway Bill

Visitor & guest editorial staffer.

Visitor & guest editorial staffer.

By Greg Sitek

Note: This editorial appeared in the September 2015 issues of the ACP publications.

… We’ve been managing to keep our highways functional legislatively the same way we do in real life, i.e. scratch and patch. Fill the potholes, mill and resurface with a 2-inch overlay; they’ll last for a year or two, maybe even more.

I’ve been a strong supporter of the Highway Bill for 40 +/- years thinking it was the best solution. And it was 40+ years ago. Today I’m not so sure…

On May 5, 2015, Michigan citizens throughout the State sent a very compelling message to the Governor and to the State Legislature. Regarding Proposal One, a $1 .8 billion per year tax increase to fix our roads, the citizens, by a margin of 80% to 20%, said no thank you. Michigan has 83 counties, and every one of them said no.

Jack Brandenburg State Senator 8th District commented in a recent newsletter: “If I may, I want to go off topic just a bit and talk about taxation, which I often refer to as confiscation. Taxation of citizens’ earnings and the amount of government spending, which has dramatically increased through time, is a debate that has raged on for years and years. Sadly for some, the only way they know how to fix a problem is to increase taxes. They just cannot understand that the citizens are maxed out when it comes to paying taxes. Good people are literally screaming at those serving in elective positions and saying: Live within your means, like we have to’ Bottom line, common sense is the order of the day. The answer is not more taxation. The answer is less spending. We already have an $18 trillion national debt.     Debts do not occur because we are taxing too little, they occur because we are spending too much.’ Want to know who said that last sentence?   His name was Ronald Reagan.

“I fully agree and understand that we need better roads in Michigan. However, let’s remember that the worst roads are in our urban areas. We have all the population, trucks, cars and industry. Our annual State Budget for this year is in excess of $53 billion. The funding for our roads must be found within that $53 billion.   I will not vote for any type of tax increase to repair our roads. I am very confident that the funding can be found inside our current budget.

“Since the failure of Proposal One last May 5, both the State House and the State Senate have passed their own legislative plan to fix the roads. Regarding the plan that came out of the state Senate I voted. No. The plan calls for a tax increase of fifteen cents a gallon for regular and diesel fuel to be phased in over the next 2 ½ years, amounting to a $700 million tax increase per year for the next 15 years.

“Obviously, something needs to be done, but just throwing money at the problem is not the answer. I want to take this opportunity to talk with you about what I and other Conservatives are advocating regarding our road problem.

“First and foremost, it is time to re-prioritize our spending. For far too long, too many other programs, projects and government entities were put at the head of the line before road repair. Now is the time to put road funding at the top of the list. All the other entities that have been fully funded through the years now will have to step back and let roads get their fair share for the next 7 to I O years. Some departments and people will not like this but far tougher things have happened to people in life.

“Second, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Michigan Road Builders (MRB) have sold a lot of people in government on the idea that we need an additional (new money) $1.2 billion per year for at least 10 years to get our roads back in shape. Coincidently, MDOT and MRB have the most to gain from that additional funding.   However, in the last two years, they have failed to say what type of roads would be built and where all this money is going to be spent.

“Third, this is a little known fact, but up until four years ago, none of the 6%, sales tax revenue generated at the gas pumps was ever used for road repair. This revenue from the sales tax on gas all went to our general fund, public education and local governments. Michigan was one of only eight states not to use sales tax revenue from gas to repair its roads. Even now this money has to be appropriated for road repair on an annual basis and the percentage can vary. I believe this revenue should be a permanent funding mechanism for our roads, in the full amount.

“Fourth, Representative Pete Lucido from Shelby Township has come up with an interesting idea, which I support. The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) has a S20 billion balance. Lucido ‘s legislation calls for the interest from that $20 billion to be used for road repair. The principal amount would not be touched, only the interest. If you figure an average of 3’% annually, that is a $600 million new revenue stream that we could use for roads, with no additional cost to the taxpayers.”

You have to ask yourself if this doesn’t, in fact, make more sense than raising taxes. Isn’t it time to ask, how much does it cost to administer the highway trust fund? How much better would our roads be if we took the politics out managing them?