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Lafayette Bridge remains closed to vehicle traffic although it was opened for ship traffic this past weekend.

Lafayette Bridge Opens to Ship Traffic and 2006 Shipping Season is Underway

Bridge's East to Open to Vehicles in May, West Span to Close Until Fall

March 31, 2006       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Bay City's Lafayette Bridge which has been closed to vehicle traffic for weeks while undergoing repairs was opened to accommodate the first traffic to the upper river this weekend.

A ship headed down to Saginaw, unloaded its cargo, and came back Sunday, according to reports from, a group of shipping watchers.

The Bay City Police Department reported that the east span of the Lafayette Bridge will open in May to vehicle traffic. But the west span will be closed for repairs until probably September. So access will be only to the Middlegrounds and Bigelow Park areas.

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The St. Lawrence Seaway officially opened its 48th navigation season March 24 although shipping began Jan. 15 on the Saginaw River. Reduction of fees on the Seaway have awakened hopes for foreign ship traffic on the Saginaw River.

Seaway activity has had no effect on the Saginaw River for 20 years since no "saltie" has called here since the Kapitonas Stulpinas, in 1986, according to reports.

However, Saginaw businessman William G. Webber, president of Sargent Docks & Terminal, has hopes that the Saginaw River Alliance will help revitalize import, export and other opportunities. He has called for formation of a statewide port authority.

Meanwhile, Mr. Webber and other shipping interests await settlement of a lawsuit by Frankenlust Townshipor an uncontested start to dredging by May 11 under a permit issued by the federal government. The dredging will allow ships with greater draft to use the upper river and may solve a problem larger vessels have in turning around in the river.

Ceremonies at the Montreal/Lake Ontario section of the St. Lawrence Seaway ceremonies followed the opening of the Welland Canal on March 21st, the earliest start ever for the Canal, which marked the commencement of its 75th year of operation.

The Seaway has launched a Hwy H2O campaign that will feature a series of workshops on cargo and a conference focusing on, among other topics, the means to finance construction of new vessels and infrastructure within the system.

In addition, atrade mission to China will explore avenues to route freight via East Coast ports and the Seaway to complement the existing routes that are plagued by congestion.

Having completed a successful season in 2005 with 43.3 million tons of traffic, the Seaway is pressing ahead with a number of initiatives in 2006.

“In 2005, we consolidated the gains we made in 2004, while moving into a number of new markets” noted Richard Corfe, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “Given the steep growth in cargo volumes straining land based arteries, we see real potential to use our Hwy H2O for short sea shipping operations as a means to complement existing intermodal connections.”

The flexible toll structure introduced in 2005 to encourage smaller shipments via the Welland Canal resulted in over 215,000 tons of new cargo coming into our system. In 2006, we have expanded this program to cover our entire Seaway system by eliminating the Gross Registered Tonnagecharge for new cargo on the Montreal/Lake Ontario section.

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At the ceremony, Richard Corfe was joined by his U.S. counterpart, Albert Jacquez, Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, in marking the Seaway’s participation in the Green Marine initiative. “Quality of life should be an important aspect within every policy decision, and our marine highway can make a major contribution to lessening the chronic congestion on our roads and border crossings, improving air quality, and reducing energy consumption, as the marine mode is the most fuel efficient mode of transportation” emphasized Mr. Corfe.###

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
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