Michigan Delegation Tour Highlights Importance of Soo Locks to Economy, National Security

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Washington, June 2, 2017 | comments

Sault Ste. Marie – Seven Members of Michigan’s Congressional Delegation were joined by Governor Rick Snyder on a bipartisan tour of the Soo Locks. The tour highlighted the importance of the Locks to our state and country’s economy and national security. Members also discussed the critical need to upgrade and build a replacement lock, ensuring this vital gateway for commerce and jobs remains open.  

The Soo Locks facility is comprised of four parallel locks – the Poe, the MacArthur, the Sabin, and the Davis.  Today, only the Poe and MacArthur Locks are operational. Only the Poe Lock is large enough to handle 70 percent of the cargo that passes through the Locks. There have been no comprehensive improvements to the Soo Locks facility in nearly 50 years. Approximately 80 million tons of iron ore, coal, stone, grain, and other commercial commodities pass through the locks annually. 

“Our delegation continues to work together on areas of common interest to benefit Michigan, like supporting important upgrades to the aging Soo Locks,” said Senator Stabenow. “The Locks are the gateway for Great Lakes freighters carrying materials our manufacturers and military depend on and important agriculture products. We know that even a temporary failure of the Locks would have a devastating effect on our economy. It’s time we pass my bipartisan legislation authorizing Congress to fund a new replacement Lock.”

"The Soo Locks are critical to economic growth here in Michigan and across the country,” said Congressman Upton. “Great Lakes freighters carry goods that fuel our manufacturing and agricultural sectors every single day. A failure of the Locks would be unacceptable. I look forward to working closely with my Michigan colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we work together to provide vital infrastructure updates and needed resources for a new lock."

"I have been emphasizing the importance of building a new lock for the last several years, conveying the need for this funding to Congress and the White House as often as I can," said Governor Snyder. "I appreciate having seven members of Congress here today. It demonstrates a strong bipartisan commitment to making this a priority for federal funding."

“Our country depends on the Soo Locks to transport nearly 80 million tons of goods and raw materials every year, and even a temporary shutdown can have devastating consequences to Michigan and the country,” said Senator Peters. “We cannot build our future on the investments our grandparents made in the past. I’m proud to work with my colleagues in the Michigan congressional delegation to authorize the funding needed to make necessary upgrades to the Soo Locks.”

“Great Lakes shipping has a significant economic impact on the Port of Monroe in my district, the entire state of Michigan, and the country as a whole,” said Congressman Walberg. “The Soo Locks are a critical gateway in transporting products across the region, and a disruption in operations would be damaging for our economy and harm millions of jobs. Modernizing the Soo Locks has been put off for too long, and I'm delighted to work in a bipartisan way to finally get this project done.”

"Transporting billions of dollars of goods annually, the functionality of the deteriorating Soo Locks is critical to Michigan's economy, our national economy, and our national security," said Congressman Trott. "My Michigan colleagues and I, along with the Governor, aren't sitting on the sidelines. We're taking a hands-on approach to ensuring this economic lifeline can accommodate 21st Century freighters and support good paying jobs for hardworking Michigan families." 

"Soo Locks modernization is a national priority. The project has been gaining momentum for years, and now--finally--we have the leadership we need at every level to push forward and get this done,” said Congressman Bergman. “I'm proud to join Senator Stabenow and a bipartisan majority of the Michigan delegation in introducing legislation that will boost our economy and protect our national security. We can't wait any longer to invest in Michigan's future. The time is now." 

In 2015, the MacArthur Lock experienced a scheduled outage when a faulty gate mechanism forced a rare mid-shipping season shutdown that closed the lock for 20 days while crews performed repairs.  The closure of the MacArthur Lock forced all traffic to transit the Poe and delayed the delivery of 1.9 million tons of cargo. 

A report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis concluded it was “hard to conceive” of a single piece of infrastructure more consequential than the Lock in terms of impact to the economy from an unexpected and sustained breakdown. A six-month closure of the Poe Lock would bring steel production and manufacturing industries to an effective halt. 

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