Michigan Lawmakers Introduce Soo Locks Legislation at Mackinac Policy Conference

"I feel like the crazy guy screaming in the wind about the impending doom of North American manufacturing and now we’re making progress," Lake Carriers’ Association president Jim Weakley said.

Michigan’s U.S. congressional delegation introduced legislation at the Mackinac Policy Conference Thursday pushing to build a new Soo Lock.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working on a study to analyze the impact of what would happen if the aging locks shut down.

This legislation would put them one step ahead when that’s complete.

9 & 10’s Blayke Roznowski and photojournalist Noah Jurik have more details on the bipartisan effort to build a new super lock in Sault Ste. Marie.

The push to build a new Soo Lock has been gaining steam over the past couple of years and Thursday was yet another example of how Michigan’s U.S. representatives are working to move that project forward.

"Without that single piece of infrastructure, it’s game over for North American manufacturing," Weakley said.

At the Mackinac Policy Conference several legislators introduced the Soo Locks Modernization Act that will authorize funds as soon as the Army Corps completes their necessary study. 

"A six month closure would completely halt North American automobile production for 10 months and it would be estimated that our unemployment rate would hit 20%, so this is a big deal for us," U.S.Senator Debbie Stabenow said. 

After a 20 day shutdown of the Poe Lock in 2015 that delayed two million tons of cargo, the urgency is more present than ever.

"If this lock goes down, 16 million North Americans are unemployed overnight," Weakley said. "We’re living on borrowed time. We are playing with fire." 

Even though a new lock could cost an estimated $1 billion, the maintenance costs are adding up.

"People might see, ‘gee $1 billion is a lot of money,’ well, when you subtract every year the millions of dollars that go into maintenance…now it’s time for us to upgrade it," U.S. Congressman Jack Bergman said.

Friday several of those representatives will be going up to Sault Ste. Marie to tour the Soo Locks.

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