Final piece of funding for new lock at Soo great news for area, nation

It’s been a long and difficult journey that has spanned multiple governors and presidents, but the budget to build a new lock at the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie is — at last — fully funded.

The final piece of the estimated $1.3 billion needed to build the new lock has come into place, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers receiving $479 million from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to invest in the locks. The news was announced Wednesday by U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Hills, who said the investment made possible by the act could put the project ahead of schedule by as much as two years.

Leaders at all levels — from Marquette County Commissioners, to state legislators, to presidents — have worked for years to make this dream a reality, and we must commend the staunch commitment of the many people who kept up the efforts to fund the massive undertaking.

“After a hard-fought effort, we finally have full funding of the Corp’s budget to finish building the new lock at the Soo Locks,” Stabenow said in a statement. “In Michigan, we know how vital the locks are to our economy and our national defense. We also know that we are on borrowed time until something happens that shuts them down.”

This is great news for the region, state and nation as a whole, as the Soo Locks serve as a critical maritime gateway for Great Lakes freighters to pick up and deliver products and materials that the entire nation — particularly manufacturers and the military — depends upon. And should the sole lock at the Soo Locks that can handle 1,000-foot freighters — the Poe Lock — suffer a failure, freighter traffic throughout the Great Lakes region could come to a grinding halt and fundamentally disrupt supply chains across the nation and world.

“The new lock will mean there is a modern lock to handle larger vessels and will prevent failure of the locks, which would have devastating consequences for the economy and national security,” officials said in the release. “Sens. Stabenow and Peters have led the effort for years to secure enough funding to complete this new lock — $1.3 billion in total.”

Peters summed up the situation in a statement about the funding, describing the locks as “an economic and national security priority for Michigan and our nation.”

“With some of the pumps operating the locks being more than 100 years old, it was long overdue that we modernize such a critical piece of our infrastructure and ensure sustainability for the future,” Peters said in the statement. “Building a new lock will make our supply chains more resilient and bolster commerce on the Great Lakes — and I was proud to help pass the legislation making this necessary upgrade closer to a reality.”

We commend Stabenow, Peters and all leaders at all levels who were committed to making the new lock possible, as it is critical to the security and economic health of our entire state and nation.


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