Great Lakes Navigation System

The Great Lakes navigation system is a continuous 27-foot deep draft waterway that extends from the western end of Lake Superior at Duluth, MN to the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the Atlantic Ocean; a distance of over 2,400 miles. This bi-national resource is composed of the five Great Lakes, the connecting channels of the Great Lakes, the St Lawrence River and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The U.S. portion of the system includes 140 harbors (60 commercial; 80 recreational), two operational locks, 104 miles of breakwaters and jetties, and over 600 miles of maintained navigation channels. In addition, the GLNS is connected to several other shallow draft waterways (Illinois Waterway, New York State Barge Canal, etc.) to form an important waterborne transportation network, reaching deep into the continent.

The US Army Corps of Engineers helps to maintain Great Lakes navigation through dredging of channels and harbors, and construction and maintenance of coastal infrastructure.

Contact GLNAVIGATION@USACE.ARMY.MIL to submit comments or questions related to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' role in Great Lakes navigation.

↓  Please Click Below for Access to Great Lakes Harbors Fact Sheets  

Great Lakes Harbors Fact Sheets

Harbor Fact Sheets include harbor features, project requirements, consequences of not maintaining the project, and transportation importance.


Buffalo District Survey Information   Chicago District Survey Information    Detroit District Project and Survey Information  
Buffalo District Program and Project Map   Chicago District Navigation Information   



Dredged Material Management

Confined Disposal Facility Map & Fact Sheets
Dredged Material Placement Methods Map
Great Lakes DMM Long Term Strategic Plan - Coming Soon

Great Lakes Dredging Team

The Great Lakes Dredging Team (GLDT) provides a forum for the exchange of information regarding best practices, lessons learned, innovative solutions, and sustainable approaches to dredging and dredge material management throughout the Great Lakes region. Please visit the GLDT webpage to find information on events , publications, and additional resources.

Great Lakes Navigation System Information

Great Lakes Navigation System: Economic Strength to the Nation - Report
This document covers topics such as the system's economic benefits and costs, the system's environmental benefits, the need to strengthen the system, the five year plan for the system, critical system needs, and interdependency of the system.
Great Lakes Navigation System Brochure
This brochure provides a summary of the Great Lakes Navigation System including a summary of key missions and infrastructure maintained within the system along with the leading commodities and tonnages that move through the system.
Coastal Infrastructure Pamphlet (PDF)
Four page document summarizing the different aspects and risks behind the federal projects of the Great Lakes region.
Economic Impacts of Maritime Shipping in the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Region, July 2023, Martin Associates
Economic Impacts of Maritime Shipping in the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Region, July 2018, Martin Associates
An economic study by Martin Associates on the impacts of Great Lakes navigation.
Economic Impacts of the Soo Locks, July 2018, Martin Associates
An economic study by Martin Associates on the impacts of the Soo Locks.
US Army Corps of Engineers Navigation Data Center Website
Implementation of the Great Lakes Navigation Regional Funding Provisions FY08-10

Contract Information

2022 Great Lakes Construction Roundtable - Agenda & Feedback Survey
FY23 Construction Contract Advertisement Schedule
2021 Great Lakes Construction Roundtable - Agenda & Presentation

Great Lakes Strategic Communication and Initiative Information

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Chicago District FY22 and FY23 Dredging Program NEW

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Ohio Dredging Newsletter NEW

Stakeholder Meetings

All are welcome to join us for our Great Lakes Navigation Stakeholder Meetings. We have posted information on upcoming meetings and presentations from recent meetings.

Structure Risk Communication Meetings

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes Navigation Team conducted several regional meetings to initiate a dialogue with state and local officials to provide information on the current condition of coastal infrastructure and the projected risks posed by deferred maintenance.

Soo Locks Asset Renewal Plan

The plan defines the project requirements needed to maximize reliability and reduce the risk of failure at the Soo Locks. Contact us for more information regarding this publication.

Contact Us

To submit comments or questions related to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' role in Great Lakes navigation, send email to