President Trump has signed into law sweeping bipartisan legislation that authorizes federal funding for a wide range of water infrastructure projects across the United States, including construction of a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
The America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, which passed the Senate by a vote of 99 to 1, includes the Soo Lock Post-Authorization Change Report that authorizes construction of a second Poe-sized lock.
“A second Poe-sized lock was authorized in 1986 but has languished under several Administrations. It was President Trump who made this a national priority,” commented James H.I. Weakley, President of Lake Carriers’ Association, the trade association representing U.S.-flag vessel operators on the Great Lakes.
The locks at Sault Ste. Marie allow vessels of over 1,000 feet long to move between Lake Superior and the lower four Great Lakes.
In a typical year, as much as 80 million tons of cargo pass through the Soo Locks, made up mostly iron ore for steel production, but also significant volumes of coal, grain and limestone. Due to size limitations, approximately 90 percent of that cargo transits the Poe Lock, as opposed to the smaller MacArthur lock.
“For far too long America’s economy has been at risk because we have only one Poe-size lock,” said Weakley. “The Department of Homeland Security predicts 11 million Americans will lose their jobs if the Poe Lock is down for just six months. President Trump’s signing of this bill means we can now concentrate on funding the lock.”
The new lock is projected to cost approximately $922 million and take seven years to build.