Posted: January 21, 2022

Infrastructure bill conveys funding for construction of new large lock at Sault Ste. Marie

The following is excerpted from an article released January 19, 2022 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Detroit District.

The New Lock at the Soo Project will receive nearly $479 million for the Corps of Engineers' mega project in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The New Lock at the Soo is currently in Phase II of construction with Phase III expected to be awarded in Spring 2022.

DETROIT - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Detroit District is receiving $561 million in fiscal year 2022 of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (DRSAA) funds for work in Michigan and on the Great Lakes.

IIJA operations and maintenance funds are allocated one year at a time. More funding across the Great Lakes is likely for fiscal years 23 and 24, but the determination will come at a later time.

"The IIJA funding is for major Civil Works mission areas, including navigation, aquatic ecosystem restoration and flood damage reduction," said Detroit District Deputy District Engineer Kevin McDaniels. "The majority of money the Detroit District is receiving will fund construction of the New Lock at the Soo project."

Nearly $479 million is slated for the Corps of Engineers' mega project in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. An additional $37 million is for major rehabilitation and $4 million for other existing facility work.

"The Soo Locks are nationally critical infrastructure, and their reliability is essential to U.S. manufacturing and National Security," said McDaniels. "A failure of the Poe Lock would have significant impacts to the U.S. economy, especially the steel industry."

There are currently two active lock chambers at the Soo Locks facility, the Poe and MacArthur locks. The Poe Lock is the only one large enough for the 1,000-foot freighters to traverse the locks. The New Lock at the Soo is being built on the site of and replacing two inactive locks, the Davis and Sabin, and will be the same size as the Poe Lock at 1,200-feet long and 110-feet wide.

"The New Lock at the Soo will provide much needed resiliency in the Great Lakes Navigation System," McDaniels said. "It will eliminate the single point of failure in our nation's iron ore supply chain."

Nearly all domestically produced high strength steel used to manufacture products like automobiles and appliances is made with taconite (iron ore) that must transit the Poe Lock.

The remaining $36.5 million will go to environmental infrastructure, navigation, continuing authority projects and other civil works programs around Michigan and in Duluth-Superior Harbor, twin ports in Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin.