shipping

The Environment Report
8:50 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Explore a century-old freighter, "dive" on a shipwreck at new Great Lakes museum

The National Museum of the Great Lakes. It cost $12 million to build, with the vast majority of the money coming from public sources.
Rebecca Williams Michigan Radio

You can listen to today's Environment Report above (the museum story starts a minute in).

I thought I knew a lot about the Great Lakes, until I met Chris Gillcrist. He’s the kind of guy you want on your Trivial Pursuit team.

This is the kind of fact I learned from him every few minutes:

“The first millionaire in American history is John Jacob Astor. It’s a guy trading beaver pelts from the Great Lakes and sending them to Europe.”

Gillcrist is the executive director of the new National Museum of the Great Lakes. It opens this Saturday, April 26, in Toledo.

There are a lot about shipwrecks here, sure,  but Gillcrist wants you to know it’s much more than that.

“We look at it as retrofitting American history to more accurately depict how the Great Lakes impacted the nation as a whole over the past 300 years,” he says.

Read more
Politics & Culture
5:06 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Stateside for Thursday, April 3, 2014

It's no surprise that shipping conditions on the Great Lakes are miserable, even though spring has officially sprung and the shipping season officially opened March 25.

No commercial traffic has yet made it to the Soo Locks and ice is still four feet thick in some places, particularly in Lake Superior. On today’s show, we speak with a member of the U.S. Coast Guard about what's being done about this.

Then, what happened as World War II brought women and minorities into Detroit's assembly plants?

And, the Detroit bankruptcy is starting to affect the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Water prices could go up, impacting consumers far outside the city. Daniel Howes joined us for our weekly check-in to tell us more.

Also, Phil Cavanagh became the third candidate to enter the race to replace Robert Ficano as Wayne County Executive.

First on the show, Michigan's economy may be pulling itself up and out of the Great Recession.

But our schools are still mired in an "education recession" and all of our children are paying the price.

That's the finding of the newest State of Michigan Education Report from The Education Trust-Midwest.

It's an eye-opening exercise to see how our state's schools and student performance compares to two states that are powering ahead in the national assessment: Massachusetts and Tennessee.

What lessons can Michigan learn from those two states?

The co-author of the new education report, Amber Arellano of The Education Trust-Midwest, joined us today.

Stateside
4:55 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Great Lakes ice cover slows down the shipping season

Credit NOAA

The Detroit Tigers weren't the only ones to hold an Opening Day.

The Great Lakes shipping season officially opened March 25.

And, unlike Opening Day at Comerica Park, this one is much less well attended.

No surprise: The near-total ice coverage on the Great Lakes has led to a very slow start to the shipping season and a whole lot of ice-cutting for the U.S. Coast Guard.

Mark Gill is the director of vessel traffic services for the U.S. Coast Guard in Sault Ste. Marie, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

The Environment Report
2:52 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

What all the snow and ice will mean for Great Lakes water levels

Icy Lake Michigan channel at Grand Haven in 2011.
R. Greaves NOAA GLERL

Listen to Drew Gronewold talking about what our snowy winter means for our summer beach and boating trips.

It might seem a little counterintuitive, but right now, a bunch of scientists are thinking about how high the water at Great Lakes beaches will be this summer.

Early last year, the Lake Michigan-Lake Huron system hit record low water levels.

It made life tougher for the shipping industry, and it’s hard on people who run Great Lakes ports.

Russell Dzuba is the harbor master in Leland.

“For us, it’s shallow. When we went to dredge this year we had to go a foot deeper and the world was a foot shorter, if you will,” he says.

Read more
Business
3:43 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Agri-business wants river barges to access Muskegon’s deep water port

Barge and ship traffic transport export cargo on the Mississippi River in the Port of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA on Sept. 9, 2005.
USDA Creative Commons

The Michigan Agri-Business Association wants to open the Port of Muskegon to river barge traffic.

The large, flat-bottomed boats already carry huge shipments from New Orleans up the Mississippi River to ports in Milwaukee and Indiana.

The Michigan Agri-Business Association wants the U.S. Coast Guard to allow the ships to come to Muskegon’s deep water port too.

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Transportation
6:17 pm
Sun January 12, 2014

Rail company to keep trying for Toledo link funds

Adrian & Blissfield Rail Road (ADBF), 20-mile line in Lenawee County
Credit http://www.abrailroad.com

BLISSFIELD, Mich. (AP) - A railroad company in southeastern Michigan's Lenawee County says it will keep pushing for financial help in reestablishing a freight line to Toledo, Ohio.

The Adrian & Blissfield Rail Road Co. lost out on 2013 grant awards through the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program. Railroad owner Mark Dobronski says it will reapply for the next round and also is pursuing other financing.

Officials say the lack of a rail link hampers economic development in the county.

Read more
Weather
5:13 pm
Sat January 11, 2014

Ships on Lake Superior battle ice

The Coast Guard Cutter Buckthorn approaches an ice-laden buoy on the St. Mary's River, where the down-bound lane has been closed due to the severity of the ice.
Credit Credit Coast Guard News (CC-BY-NC-ND) / http://www.flickr.com/photos/coastguardnews/11358608774/

SUPERIOR, Wis. (AP) Ships using Lake Superior are having a tough time due to the worst build up of ice in decades.

Wisconsin Public Radio News reports the National Weather Service started tracking freeze-ups in 1978, and says this is the second-fastest and thickest ice-up in 35 years. Coast Guard Soo Vessel Traffic Director Mark Gill says this is the worst since 1989.

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Environment & Science
9:05 pm
Sun November 17, 2013

National Museum of the Great Lakes opens spring 2014

The new National Museum of the Great Lakes and the Col. James M. Schoomaker Museum Ship in Toledo, Ohio.
Credit Facebook

Organizers are still raising money for what's expected to be an almost $13 million project and they're in the process of putting the final touches on all the exhibits at the museum.

Once the The National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio opens you'll be able to learn about how booze was transported across the waterways from Canada into the United States during Prohibition.  Along with lots of other cool things about the Great Lakes.

Here's what the museum says on its website:

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Breaking
2:16 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

$20.9 million for Great Lakes harbor dredging

A dredge working on Lake Michigan.
USEPA

The lower water levels in the Great Lakes are taking a bite out of the state's pocketbook.

Today, the Legislature sent a budget bill to Gov. Snyder that includes $20.9 million in funding for dredging harbors and marinas suffering from low water levels in Lakes Huron and Michigan.

Update 2:00 p.m.

Here's more on the $20.9 million approved for harbor dredging.

MLive's Tim Martin has a list of the 49 harbors and marinas to be dredged with the funds.

The bill had bi-partisan support, but State Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) voted against a bill to fund dredging of public harbors and marinas with money from the state's Waterways Fund.

"The Waterways Fund pays for things like maintaining our public marinas so that the public can have access to clean restrooms and great park locations at public marinas around the state - and they depleted that to do dredging. And to me, I just think it’s the wrong priority,” said Warren.

Supporters said it's more important to provide access to the harbors and marinas now. They say they plan to put money back into the Waterways Fund later on.

State Senator Geoff Hansen (R-Hart) said passage of the legislation today (before legislators take a two week spring break) will allow dredging to start in time for the summer boating season.

“With this emergency situation, we needed the money now. We didn’t need to wait, because it won’t do any good once we get into July and August to try and do the dredging then. We needed to put the money up front, get the bids out, get the work done,” said Hansen.

Gov. Snyder is expected to sign the bill quickly to free up the money for dredging contracts.

11:01 a.m.

The state Senate has sent Governor Rick Snyder a budget bill that includes almost $21 million to dredge Great Lakes harbors suffering from record low water levels.

We'll have more soon.

*An earlier headline read "$21 million for Great Lakes harbor dredging." $20.9 million was approved. We changed the headline.

Stateside
12:40 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

A dive into Michigan shipwrecks

Shipwreck Diver
Michigan Department of Enviromental Quality

For centuries the Great Lakes have engulfed thousands of ships and 2,000 of those ships have been found at the bottom of of our lakes.

The most famous of which is probably the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Tony Gramer, an award winning underwater photographer, knows of other famous ships that have been swallowed up by the Great Lakes. 

He's presenting the story behind one of those ships this weekend at the 32nd Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival. It's happening this weekend at Washtenaw Community College.

We spoke with Tony about what it is  like to dives in the Great Lakes and why people are so passionate about shipwreck discovery & exploration.

To hear the full story click the audio link above.

Transportation
5:15 pm
Sun December 30, 2012

Kansas company has deal to buy Ann Arbor Railroad

A Kansas-based company says it has a deal to buy the short line Michigan rail company Ann Arbor Railroad Inc.

Pittsburg, Kan.-based Watco Companies LLC says the deal awaits approval from the Surface Transportation Board, which is expected in late January or early February.

The Ann Arbor Railroad serves southeastern Michigan and the Toledo, Ohio, areas, mainly shipping auto and other manufacturing goods. It operates 50 miles of track between Ann Arbor and Toledo and has Toledo-area terminals serving General Motors Co., Chrysler and Ford Motor Co.

Business
9:07 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

“Salties” with wind turbine parts attracting lots of attention in Muskegon

People come to The Mart Dock to watch the wind turbines come off the ship in Muskegon.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

This week people in Muskegon have been checking out a rare sight; several giant foreign ships that have docked there to unload cargo.

Crews in neon hard hats carefully lower a nearly 200-foot-long wind turbine blade from a massive ship onto a special truck that’s three times as long as a normal semi-trailer. The carbon fiber blades from Germany weigh about 22,000 pounds. The tower sections shipped from Korea can weigh up to 68 tons.

These thirty blades are destined for a wind farm in Ithaca, south of Mount Pleasant.

About fifty people gathered Thursday afternoon to watch. Families with small children snapped photos.

Life-long Muskegon resident Judy Dobberstein says she’s only seen the foreign ships, or “salties,” a couple of times before.

“This is the best viewing of salties that I think I’ve ever seen; one after another like this. This is really cool,” Dobberstien said.

Read more
4:28 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

The shipping industry scrapes along in the Great Lakes

Lead in text: 
Water levels are nearing record lows in the Great Lakes. The Wall St. Journal takes a look at what it means for those moving cargo on the lakes.
The Midwest drought is lowering water levels in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron to near-record lows, putting pressure on the shipping industry and turning some beaches into long mud flats. It is also intensifying a debate over a decades-old dredging project near Detroit that permanently reduced the lakes' levels by nearly two feet.
Arts & Culture
1:30 pm
Sun September 23, 2012

West Michigan Underwater Preserve becomes official

Approximately five miles north of Pentwater, the Comanche is a 75 - 100' tugboat in 75' of water.
WMUP

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) - A number of Lake Michigan shipwrecks are now being officially protected and promoted as Michigan's 13th underwater preserve.

The Muskegon Chronicle reports the West Michigan Underwater Preserve recently became official with the filing of paperwork with the state.

The new preserve covers about 345 square miles and features 13 identified shipwrecks and three other diving structures.

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Environment & Science
9:31 am
Fri July 20, 2012

U.S. Coast Guard says diesel fuel contained on sunken barge in Lake Huron (PHOTOS)

The dredge, the Arthur J, sinking on Lake Huron. The boat is owned by MCM Marine.
U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard issued a press release this morning saying all the fuel valves and vents connected to the fuel tank on the sunken barge, the Arthur J, have been plugged.

Crews continue to work on salvaging the 110-foot dredge barge and 38-foot tug that sank yesterday morning one mile off the coast of Lakeport, Michigan.

From their release:

The Arthur J has ten vents to its fuel tank and responders where able to plug four of them early Thursday afternoon, but six remained open until responders were able to plug them late Thursday night.

The impact to the shoreline has been minimal; however there is visible sheening along the shores of Lakeport, but there has been no report of a thick product wash ashore. However, there is still a strong diesel odor in the air, so residents and visitors of the lower Lake Huron area are encouraged to avoid areas where there is an odor in the air. Those who live in the area should remain inside with doors and windows closed as much as possible. 

The Coast Guard says the Michigan State Health Department has closed beaches from the Blue Water Bridge north to Lakeport State Park.

The diesel fuel that did spill remains on the lake. No wildlife impacts have been reported yet. The Coast Guard says "weather and lake conditions are not optimal for product clean up, but the clean-up efforts continue vigilantly."

The sunken dredge barge and tug were owned and operated by MCM Marine.

Early reports indicated the barge and tug began taking on water around 4 a.m. yesterday. The Coast Guard reports the cause of the accident at this time is still unknown.

Arts/Culture
3:02 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

Shipwreck discovered in Lake Michigan off the coast of Grand Haven

A shipwreck diving group discovered what it believes is a wreck of a 19th century vessel off the coast of Grand Haven. The discovery was made last October, but announced today.

The Grand Rapids Press reports the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association found the wreck in 350 feet of water.

They think it might be the wreck of  the St. Peter, a two-masted schooner that sank in 1874. The ship was carrying a load of wheat from Chicago with a destination of Buffalo, N.Y.

More from the Grand Rapids Press:

The ship was named for the Patron Saint of Sailors and, according to its crew, sank about 35 miles off the Milwaukee coast. All of the crew survived.

Craig Rich, another MSRA director, said the ship's location near Grand Haven would be unusual.

“If this is the wreck of the St. Peter, then it drifted east for some time, coming to rest on the opposite side of Lake Michigan, significantly father east than the crew reported,” he said.

Environment
1:28 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

New York State backs away from stricter ballast water regulations

Water contained in ship-balancing ballasts can potentially transport invasive species to the Great Lakes.
Jim Bahn Flickr

The Associated Press Reports: New York State will not be imposing stricter regulations on ships potentially carrying invasive species into the Great Lakes.

In the past, ships carrying ballast water for stability have brought invasive species including quagga mussels, spiny water fleas and round gobys to the Great Lakes from Europe.

New York State controls access to the St. Lawrence Waterway, which is the gateway to the Great Lakes.

Read more
Changing Gears
1:52 pm
Wed July 6, 2011

Who Cares About Great Lakes Dredging? These Guys. (slideshow)

Engineer Tom O'Bryan says dredges like this one are basically big vacuums, chewing up sand.
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

We brought the story of the Great Lakes dredging backlog to your radio and computer screen.

But sometimes, you need more of a visual. (Even more than my 18 million ovens post.)

So click through to my slideshow to meet some of the people affected by sediment buildup in regional shipping channels.

Economy
10:43 am
Wed July 6, 2011

When an inch means a ton (or 267 tons, to be precise)

Chart courtesy of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force

Who knew an inch could make such a difference?

In our piece this week on the Great Lakes dredging backlog, we introduced you to Mark Barker, president of The Interlake Steamship Company.  I called him “a man who measures revenue with a ruler.”

To see what that really means, check out the nifty chart from the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (above).

It shows how much cargo a ship can hold for every inch of water it occupies. For the biggest vessels – the “thousand- footers” – one inch of draft corresponds to 267 tons of cargo. That’s why every bit of clearance matters to shippers trying to get the most bang from every trip.

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Changing Gears
10:27 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Great Lakes harbors threatened by dredging backlog

The Great Lakes form a sprawling ecosystem of nature and industry.  In a strong economy, ships can transport up to 200 million tons of cargo across these waters each year.  But now the shipping industry has declared a state of emergency.  The cause is a region-wide dredging backlog.  Shippers worry sediment buildup threatens to choke some navigation channels.

Read more

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