Great Lakes ports connect land-based and waterborne transportation and are crucial to local economies and regional industries. There are more than 100 ports in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Transportation System (MTS), handling an estimated 200 million tonnes of cargo annually. Continuous investments are necessary to support the maintenance of essential port functions and to expand port capacity to further integrate the maritime system into regional transportation networks.
The 2016 Regional Maritime Strategy calls for further investments to replace and modernize aging port infrastructure, and to increase dredging to remove sediments accumulating in harbors and channels that restrict the operations of commercial vessels. Specific investments are needed to improve first- and last-mile connections between water, rail, and roadway transportation, including building infrastructure that enables container transport within the Great Lakes system.
Port infrastructure funding comes from a combination of state/provincial, local, private, and federal funding programs and partnerships. Investments in port projects that improve cargo handling and maritime connections to the regional transportation system are funded by a mixture of government programs. The investments below describe federal, state, provincial, and local port investment programs.