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Posted on Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

Ship port could be valuable addition to the Detroit-area

By Letters to the Editor

When the proposed new bridge from Detroit to Canada is completed the Detroit-area should consider developing a major new mid-America container ship port to service both the United States and Canada.

Sending things around the world, or getting things into this country and Canada from around the world, will always be necessary. A major international container ship port combined with Metro Airport, and Willow Run Airport (a very good cargo airport), could transform Southeast Michigan into a unique major international cargo handling center in the middle of the U.S. and Canada.

The container ship port and the two airports could become strong magnets for new businesses and business professionals to locate to the state of Michigan.

Byron O. Hestevold

Ann Arbor


Eric S

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

Others have already pointed out that the St Lawrence Seaway, Welland Canal (and Detroit River mouth channels too) currently limit ship sizes to 78 ft beam and 26.5 ft draft. That's a "small class" container ship not normally used internationally. By contrast, Baltimore, Boston, Halifax, New York, and Norfolk can all handle "post panamax" ships with 160 ft beam and 50 ft depth -- and Halifax and New York are already proposing expansions because some clients are going elsewhere. That pretty much limits a Detroit containter port to regional "spoke" delivery from one of those East Coast big ports. Will we really see any benefit, or are the needs met by adding container handling to rail infrastructure that we already mostly have and are grossly underutilitizing?


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:26 a.m.

Try not to be so subtle with your missive. Most posters on will not pick up on the sarcasm.

Ron Granger

Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

I hope you aren't suggesting that taxpayers pay for this? If this is so badly needed for business, it should self-fund. And that includes all required infrastructure.


Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.

Good idea. Instead of building a new bridge (we already have one), let's use the money to expand the St. Lawrence Seaway locks.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

Nice try Matty...

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.

@the leprachaun & @John of Saline: The Canadian government has a great white paper available on the web outlining what is used in many areas of the world: a hub and spoke system where smaller ships (in this case St. Lawrence Seaway depth ships) are used in a hub and spoke system, where the major hubs are the ports of Montreal and Halifax. The white paper is at:

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

A container shipping port in the Detroit area has been needed for over 100 years. It would be best co-located next to major rail lines and freeways. There are several sites that could be an excellent site. Because the cost of shipping by container ship is the lowest cost way of moving freight, and there are over 20,000 manufacturing plants in SE Michigan, having a container port facility would enable a lot more exporting and create a lot of jobs in our region. Export jobs create the most economic benefit to a region.

John of Saline

Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

There's a size limit for ships that can get through the Welland Canal that goes around Niagara. But one would think it would make sense, despite this, to have a port to accept such ships and transfer their containers to railroads for transport to the airport or other points as needed.


Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

Mr. Hestevold: Who wants a booming economy? Michiganer's like living in the "Rust Belt" going thru the economic cycles of boom and depression with the auto industry, voting blindly for one party and being told lies by Union Bosses! Please leave us alone and don't bother us with things that could change our lives! XMO

the leprachaun

Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 7:25 p.m.

I like the idea, however some locks would need to be expanded to allow container ships to travel to Detroit. This a a great opportunity and I hope Detroit makes the best of it.