Task force: Build new Soo lock
Great Lakes Maritime Task Force is urging Congress to fund construction of a new large lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., either through an appropriation bill or part of a massive economic stimulus bill President-elect Obama is expected to seek in January.
The task force said the new lock would be similar in size to the Poe Lock. It was authorized by Congress 20 years ago, but never funded. The $500 million project would be the largest navigation improvement effort on the Great Lakes in a generation.
Patrick O’Hern, task force president, said the “Army Corps of Engineers considers the Soo Locks the single point of failure that could bring Great Lakes shipping to a standstill.”
The Soo locks connects Lake Superior and Lake Huron, bypassing the rapids of the St. Marys River.
“The reason the need is so critical is vessels that are restricted to the Poe Lock represent nearly 70 percent of U.S.-flag carrying capacity on the Great Lakes,' said Donald Cree, first vice president of the task force. “If the Poe Lock is incapacitated for a lengthy period of time, America’s steel mills won’t have access to Minnesota and Michigan iron ore. Great Lakes power plants won’t be able to receive clean-burning, low-sulfur fuel.”