Soo Locks Rebuilding Underway
It’s taken a while. But construction is now underway to build a new lock structure at Sault Ste. Marie (The Soo) to keep the shipping lanes open. There have been all kinds of delays, mostly from lack of funding. The Trump Administration is getting a lot of credit for helping to guide funding legislation through congress to get things rolling. But not all of the needed funding is approved and Congress will need to appropriate more money to make sure the project is completed. Adding a second lock to accommodate super freighters on the Great Lakes was authorized by Congress in 1986. But funding was always thrown to the back burner ever since.
The new mammoth lock is needed since two of the older locks at the Soo are no longer operating and loss of the newer and larger Poe lock would bring much of the Great Lakes shipping trade to a halt. The smaller MacArthur Lock can only take in ships up to 730 feet in length. But most newer ships can only make passage using the Poe Lock. The current work for the new lock includes deepening the upstream approach channel. That will be followed by the downstream channel deepening. Then in 2022, the actual lock structure will be built with that work expected to take up to 5 years. The new lock will take the place of the old closed locks on the north side of the facility.