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Great Lakes Governors and Premiers Seek to Double Maritime Trade

Economic prosperity is highly dependent on well-maintained surface transportation networks; harbors, airports and waterways that are not outdated and congested; and water, wastewater and electricity infrastructure that can keep up with changing demand as population grows and puts pressure on land use and existing infrastructure systems. Governments at all levels are struggling to keep pace with growing demand to maintain and improve infrastructure in an era of tighter controls on operating budgets, and are recognizing that there is a need to do things differently when it comes to maintaining, constructing, and funding critical infrastructure.

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence maritime transportation system (GLMTS) is a critical element of the region’s infrastructure and provides both opportunity and risk to regional industry. The GLMTS connects consumers, products, and industries all over North America and serves as a portal to the global supply chain. The system connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Ohio, Illinois and Mississippi River transportation systems via more than 100 commercial ports, 40 provincial and interstate highways, and nearly 30 rail lines. The system also supports more than 200,000 jobs and contributes more than $30B annually to the regional economy.

Acknowledging the importance of the GLMTS and recognizing that the system is underutilized and aging, the Great Lakes Governors and Premiers launched the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Maritime Initiative in 2013. In June 2015, the Governors and Premiers established the goal of creating a regional maritime strategy by 2016 that will double maritime trade while reducing the system’s overall environmental footprint. This strategy will include policy and recommendations for maintaining and improving regional maritime assets to enable industry to transport goods produced and manufactured in the region even more efficiently.