FUND CONSTRUCTION OF THE NEW SOO LOCK

Owned and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, the lock complex at Sault Ste Marie, Michigan (“Soo Locks”) enables ships to navigate the St. Marys River, which connects Lake Superior to the lower four Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. Congress has authorized construction of a new large lock at the Soo. The project is currently under construction and Congress has already appropriated $411 million for that purpose.

AGLPA Position:

Congress should appropriate $483.2 million in the FY2022 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill to fund the fourth-year of construction of the new navigation lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

Additional Background:

Owned and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, the lock complex at Sault Ste Marie, Michigan (“Soo Locks”) enables ships to navigate the St. Marys River, which connects Lake Superior to the lower four Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. Although a number of navigation locks have been constructed on the St. Marys River since the 1800s, today the Corps of Engineers maintains two operating locks that lift or lower ships a total of 21 feet. Opened in 1943, the MacArthur Lock measures 800 feet long, 80 feet wide, and 29.5 feet deep. Opened in 1968, the Poe Lock measures 1200 feet long x 110 feet wide x 32 feet deep.

Through this critical infrastructure, Great Lakes commercial vessels carry iron ore and other raw materials that feed the nation’s steel industry, agricultural products destined for export markets, and low sulfur coal fueling the region’s electric utilities. A 2018 economic impact analysis found that maritime commerce transiting the Soo Locks support more than 123,000 jobs in the United States and Canada.

Unfortunately, the lock infrastructure is old and in need of repair and replacement.Congress originally authorized construction of a new large lock at Sault Ste Marie in the Water Resources Development Act of 1986. The project was reauthorized in 2007 and again in 2018 at a total cost of $922 million. The project is currently under construction and Congress has already appropriated $411 million for that purpose. The Corps of Engineers has estimated that its FY2022 capability (the maximum amount it can deploy during the fiscal year) for the next phase of construction is $483.2 million.