USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Great Lakes Gateway (Chicago)

A large vessel.

The Great Lakes Gateway region, known as the Nation’s Fourth Seacoast, encompasses eight states to include all or a portion of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin as well as an awareness of commercial activity along the Great Lakes’ shores of the Canadian Provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

The Great Lakes contains one-fifth of the earth’s surface freshwater and begins at the western end of Lake Superior in Minnesota and extends eastward to the Saint Lawrence Seaway locks. This region includes 13 public port authorities including more than 50 commercial ports on the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Seaway System and all regional waterways, intermodal connections and corridors to include the connecting channels of the Chicago Area Waterway System from Joliet, IL, to Lake Michigan.

Commercial navigation on the Great Lakes is dominated by the transport of bulk cargos, such as iron ore, coal, limestone, grain, and salt, rounded out by breakbulk cargoes including steel, project shipments inclusive of windmill components, and some containerized freight. Cargos that support the region’s economy are moved via diverse vessels including saltwater ships utilizing the St. Lawrence Seaway, Great Lakes’ domestic vessels as large as 1000-feet long, and barge tows making use of the Mississippi River System.

The Gateway Director serves as an expert on all regional and local maritime issues to include port intermodal connectivity, environmental issues and concerns in the maritime domain, financing for port infrastructure, marine highway development, and support for American shipbuilding companies. The Director also engages in maritime emergency preparedness throughout the region. In addition to coordinating with the private sector, the Director also serves as the Agency liaison to regional federal, state, and local government agencies.