Posts Tagged ‘Lake Carriers Association’

Boaters Upset Over NS Handling of Drawbridge

November 20, 2022

Boats wait for an NS train to clear the drawbridge on the Chicago Line near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland in Sept. 24, 2017. The view is looking northward toward Lake Erie.

A Cleveland TV station recently reported that boaters and Great Lakes freighters operating on Lake Erie are disenchanted with Norfolk Southern’s handling of opening and closing its drawbridge over the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland.

The I-Team of WJW-TV said it was told by the U.S. Coast Guard that the bridge being closed when boats want to pass has been a chronic problem for years.

Blair Stanifer of the Coast Guard told Channel 8 that the agency has seen delays of two hours and even three hours when the bridge was closed.

He said if a train isn’t coming close to going over the bridge it must go up for boats and ships.

 “Once you make a request, provided it’s safe to do so, the bridge is supposed to open promptly and fully.,” he said.

The Coast Guard has the legal authority to fine the railroad up to $30,000 per complaint.

However, the WJW report said that it can take months and even years for the Coast Guard to hear and decide on complaints with some complaints filed in 2019 having been dismissed.

“They open when they feel like they want to . . . not by the law which is a requirement when a signal is sounded by a vessel coming through,” said Eric Peace, vice president of of the Lake Carriers Association, a shipping industry trade group.

“You bring a 700-foot ship, and you put them inside this break wall, they have to be able to hold position if they can’t get through that bridge. You actually have to tread water. It becomes a safety problem.”

Peace said the only way to get NS to be more responsive to boaters is to continue to raise the fines.

In a statement NS said it works with the Coast Guard and others to ensure that rail and marine traffic keeps moving. The statement said the railroad seeks to balance the needs of both.

CN to Close Escanaba Iron Ore Docks

March 22, 2017

The Escanaba, Michigan, iron ore docks will close at the end of April, Canadian National has announced.

It will mark the end of 165 years of ore shipping from the Michigan Upper Peninsula port on Lake Michigan.

Shipments from Escanaba had been slowing since Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources closed its Empire Mine 65 miles north of Escanaba in August 2016.

The Lake Carriers Association said that about 3.5 million tons of ore was shipped from Escanaba in 2015, but CN said no iron ore has moved to the docks since October 2016.

CN said it will keep open its Escanaba yard to serve local rail customers.

Escanaba had been the only iron ore port on Lake Michigan that in recent years has moved raw materials to industries in Chicago, Indiana and other points in the Midwest.