Workers Finish Pouring Concrete; Seaway Reopening Still Set for Wednesday
THOROLD, Ontario (AP) _ Workers finished pouring concrete into the hole in the Welland Canal’s damaged lock Monday and a St. Lawrence Seaway Authority official said it should reopen on schedule Wednesday.
It’s too early to tell exactly what time the first ship would pass through, said seaway spokesman Robert Balcombe, who also said 2,400 tons of concrete was poured into the hole left by the collapse of part of the lock wall Oct. 14.
″The main work left is to drill through the section of the wall and install anchor rods to the rock behind the wall to add some insurance,″ he said.
Balcombe said heavy rain since Friday night has hampered progress to some degree, but officials nonetheless are hoping to reopen Wednesday.
On Tuesday, he said, officials will start bringing ships into the canal so as to be ready as soon as the lock is repaired.
More than 120 vessels are waiting to use the 26-mile canal, the section of the seaway that connects lakes Erie and Ontario.
″Every ship that called in has been given an order of turn,″ Balcombe said, adding that ″the first one to go through will be the last one that didn’t get through.″
That would be the Liberian-registered grain hauler Furia, which was temporarily trapped in the lock when a 180-foot-long chunk of the lock’s west wall broke off.
The repairs to the lock have stopped most shipping on the seaway, which connects the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean, during the peak season immediately before winter weather forces the seaway to close.
Officials have estimated that shippers using the seaway have lost about $1 million a day because of the delay. Balcombe said he was unsure what the cost of repairs would be.
″We still don’t know because the contractor hasn’t billed us for a lot of things yet,″ he said.
It is the second time in 13 months that traffic has been halted on the 2,342-mile waterway. Last November, 165 ships were stalled in the system for up to 18 days when a lift bridge failed at Valleyfield, Quebec.
As they did last year, seaway officials have said they will extend the shipping season, which traditionally ends Dec. 15, until ice and bad weather make the waterway impassable.