The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday that the Poe Lock will open at 12:01 a.m. on March 25, marking the beginning of the 2023 Great Lakes shipping season.
The operating season is fixed by federal regulation and driven in part by the feasibility of vessels operating in typical Great Lakes ice conditions.
The Poe Lock closed Jan. 16 to undergo critical repairs and maintenance during the 10-week-long winter shutdown. Maintenance crews performed a variety of critical tasks on the Poe Lock, including Gate 1 anchorage component repairs such as replacing concrete, Gate 1 lifting lugs and turning feet, underfloor drain system inspection, Gate 1 structural inspection for future replacement, Gate 3 inspection for structural repairs, gate jacking pedestal inspections, valve repairs, Gate 3 seal repairs and culvert intake grate repairs. The (miter) gates are the large gates at each end of the lock chamber. The gates allow ships to enter and leave the lock and prevent water from entering or exiting the lock while boats are lifted or lowered.
“Crews also performed a wide range of other maintenance tasks including fender timber replacements, electrical and mechanical systems inspections, and preventative maintenance on both the Poe and MacArthur Locks and floating plant maintenance,” Maintenance Branch Chief Nick Pettit said.
The MacArthur Lock, located south of the Poe, is scheduled to open April 24.
“We welcome visitors into the park for the 2023 Soo Locks season opening. The park and viewing platform will open March 24 at 11 p.m. and close March 25 at 1 a.m. The Visitor Center will host an open house March 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Chief Park Ranger Michelle Briggs said.
The park is open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to open the Soo Locks Visitor Center on May 1 for the summer season.