Soo Lock Plans Include Deepening

Image source: USACE

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers yesterday announced that they will proceed with plans to build a new Soo Lock, one of the largest Great Lakes infrastructure projects in a generation, the Lake Carriers’ Association informs. 

The news came in the form of an announcement that the Corps has formally allocated $32 million this fiscal year for design and construction of the project, which was first authorized in 1986 but stalled.

The $32 million Corps money announced yesterday could be combined with another $52 million committed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, said the Association. The construction will take place in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan over the next 10 years and funded through additional annual appropriations.

“This is the moment we have been waiting for more than 30 years,” said Jim Weakley, President of Lake Carriers’ Association.

“The announcement by the Army Corps’ that the construction program for the new lock at the Soo will officially begin is the direct result of the tireless efforts of so many people and organizations banding together to update one of the most critical pieces of American infrastructure. It is a great day for Michigan, the Great Lakes region, and the entire nation. We are elated.”

The funds will be used for design work and to resume construction that began in 2009 and quickly stalled. Construction projects slated to initiate the new lock work include deepening the upstream channel to accommodate modern Great Lakes’ vessels and construction of the upstream approach walls.

“Money added by Congress and the Corps over the last decade has been used for rehabilitation of the existing locks and for some preliminary construction for the new lock, but this is the first time the Corps has funded construction on its own,” Weakley added.

Construction of a new lock will provide resiliency to the existing Poe Lock, opened in 1969, which now carries over 90 percent of all cargoes. The Soo Locks are crucial to the American manufacturing supply chain, according to the Association.

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