New Soo Lock Study Indicates Huge Economic Impact

"Without the Poe, there is no system-wide resiliency and we just can’t recover," Lake Carriers’ Association president Jim Weakley said.

The Soo Locks are now closed for the season, but the effort to improve the future of the locks continues.

It’s part of a long-time effort to get a new super-sized shipping lock built in the Soo.

A new lock would provide redundancy in the system in case the aging Poe Lock ever went down.

9 & 10’s Blayke Roznowski and photojournalist Noah Jurik have our continuing coverage on the need for a new lock.

"When you see its in the top 40 of the ""megaprojects"" in the nation, I said, that’s really huge for us," Sault Area Conventions & Visitors Bureau executive director Linda Hoath said. 

It’s a project that’s been in the works for years, but it’s receiving more validation from the federal government.

The U.S. Treasury Department released a study determining a new twin Poe Lock would have a $1.7 billion economic impact.

"This is the second federal agency who has confirmed what the industry has been saying for well over a decade: that there’s significant economic benefits," Weakley said.

A report from the Department of Homeland Security echoed similar benefits.

The Treasury Department says the total impact of the locks goes into the trillions.

"It all begins with iron ore that’s mined in Minnesota and Michigan and it ends in their front yard with their cars and in their houses with their washing machines," Weakley said.

If the Poe Lock were to go down for six months it could also leave 11 million people across the country jobless.

"It would include all of the people we represent," Weakley said. "I think our industry, the shipping industry, would not survive."

The possibility of a new lock is not only exciting for the shipping industry, but the local economy.

"It’s going to bring jobs for people and the housing industry and all the different things will just rise right up," Hoath said. "It’ll be a very booming little community."

The Army Corps of Engineers does still has to complete their study, and funding has to be secured, before a new lock could be built.