If Appropriated, New Soo Lock Project Could Bring Thousands of Jobs, Ease Burden Facing Vital Infrastructure

More than $900 million in funding for a new Soo lock is now authorized, but more has to happen before construction can begin.

The funding still needs to be appropriated by Congress in a federal budget.

In the 1980s a similar project was also authorized, but never actually funded.

For the Army Corps of Engineers it’s a constant effort to keep the vital piece of infrastructure up and running.

“The problem with an aging lock we need to do more maintenance and repair. It’s really important for commerce for our locks to stay maintained open throughout the navigational season,” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chief of Construction Joanne Gray, said.

The Great Lakes states and much of the U.S. economy rely on the operation of the Soo Locks.

We say “locks,” plural but in reality, nearly everything relies on one lock.

“86 percent of the cargo that goes through the locks goes through the Poe lock,” Gray, added.

At it’s close to $1 billion price-tag, the new lock would be the same size and ease the burden facing the Poe.

“If the Poe lock were to break down in anyway, we won’t break down and stop our whole economic system throughout Michigan and the entire country,” U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, explained.

Senator Stabenow says the new economic validation study shows just how crucial this project is.

“It’s been a number of years working through the Army Corps bureaucracy getting them to understand this really is a national security threat as well as economic security threat,” Stabenow, said.

“The next is working with appropriators to be able to work through what will be a several year process, but I want to get it done as fast as possible,” she added.

The Sabin Lock built in 1919 is no longer used for shipping, but if the funding for a new lock is appropriated, it will be constructed at the site of the Davis and Sabin locks, both built in the early 1900s.

“This is likely tens of thousands of good paying jobs coming our way,” Stabenow, added.

According to Corps’ Economic Validation Study, that means many jobs for people in Chippewa County.