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Transportation Secretary visits Seaway employees

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MASSENA - Secretary of Transportation Raymond H. “Ray” LaHood visited the Eisenhower Lock Thursday to commend seaway employees for their contribution to commerce and transportation.

For the third time since taking office in January 2009, Mr. LaHood visited employees of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) in Massena to observe recent improvements made at the facilities.

Craig H. Middlebrook, acting administrator of the SLSDC, thanked Mr. LaHood for visiting the facility more than any other transportation secretary and for recognizing the importance of the employees who help manage the waterway.

“We’re thrilled and honored (Mr. LaHood) would take the time to come up here,” Mr. Middlebrook said. “He has underscored that what the seaway has done is create a vital economic link between the Great Lakes and the rest of the world.”

Mr. LaHood touched on recent advancements at the seaway, such as a new Draft Information System, which projects a three-dimensional image of the base of a ship to both on-board and land-based navigation equipment. This allows sailors and seaway workers to pinpoint where a ship’s keel is in comparison to the riverbed. “We know precisely where the ship’s keel is,” Mr. Middlebrook said.

Mr. LaHood also visited to see the Canadian Seaway management program’s recently entered relationship with Transport Canada, which is calling for the Canadian government to invest $400 million toward seaway improvements over the next five years, according to Mr. Middlebrook.

The U.S. government has pledged to invest $85 million toward seaway improvements over this same period of time, which Mr. Middlebrook says will result in the “most investment” in the seaway since it was initially opened in 1957.

Mr. Middlebrook expects the public dollars will help spur private investment, as well. “I think that in response to that public commitment, you’re also seeing a private commitment,” Mr. Middlebrook said.

Mr. Middlebrook said Mr. LaHood’s theme for his visit was using transportation to improve the world. This is expected to be Mr. LaHood’s final visit to the region as transportation secretary. Late last month President Obama nominated Anthony Foxx, incumbent mayor of Charlotte, N.C., to replace Mr. LaHood as transportation secretary.

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