Accession Number:



Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway: Assessing Risks and Measuring Performance Could Improve Maritime Transportation

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Congressional Report]

Corporate Author:

United States Government Accountability Office

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



The Great Lakes-Seaway system extends 2,300 miles and serves more than 100 ports in the United States and Canada. Four of the 17 locks that enable navigation are managed by the Army Corps within the Department of Defense and U.S. Seaway Corporation within the Department of Transportation. The rest are managed by Canada. A 2007 U.S.-Canada study noted the system could absorb additional traffic and led to U.S. asset renewal plans to improve lock infrastructure condition. GAO was asked to review efforts to modernize the Great Lakes-Seaway. This report examines 1 shipping trends since 1980 and factors affecting recent trends, 2 stakeholder views on challenges to use, and 3 the extent to which the Army Corps and the U.S. Seaway Corporation have made progress on and measure performance of lock renewal efforts. GAO analyzed Seaway and Army Corps shipping data from 1980 through 2016, the agencies asset renewal plans, and interviewed24 stakeholders, including port and shipper representatives, selected to represent a range of perspectives.

Subject Categories:

  • Geography
  • Surface Transportation and Equipment
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]