November 28th 2018

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced Monday that it is moving forward with plans to build a new Soo Lock.

The Corps issued a statement saying that it has formally allocated $32 million in the current fiscal year for the design and construction of the project.

Construction will take place in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., over the next decade and be funded through additional annual appropriations, as well as $52 million in funds committed by the state of Michigan.

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

“The announcement 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,” he added.

“It is a great day for Michigan, the Great Lakes region and the entire nation. We are elated.”

Initial construction projects include deepening the upstream channel to accommodate modern Great Lakes vessels and construction of the upstream approach walls.

The Soo Locks are crucial to America’s manufacturing supply chain.

The existing Poe Lock, opened in 1969, now carries over 90 percent of all cargoes.

“This announcement by the Corps is welcome and timely as we approach the 50th year since the opening of the Poe Lock, critical to moving cargoes between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes,” said LCA Board Chair Mark Pietrocarlo.

“The locks are the backbone of the American steel industry, power generation, construction and trade with America’s heartland.”

According to a 2018 study of the economic impact of vessel traffic moving through the existing locks, over 123,000 jobs–which in turn support $22.5 billion in economic activity–are reliant on the locks.

Overall, Great Lakes commercial maritime traffic supports 237,000 jobs and drives $35 billion annually in economic activity.