Senator Stabenow: Replacing Aging Soo Locks Critical to Economy, National Security

Sen. Stabenow Tours Locks with Army Corps of Engineers, Coast Guard, and Customs and Border Protection; Discusses Need to Build Replacement Lock, Great Lakes Safety and Security

Friday, May 29, 2015

Sault Ste. Marie - U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow visited the Soo Locks and highlighted the critical role they play in our nation's ability to ship commercial goods from iron ore to wheat. U.S. iron ore, a commodity vital to American manufacturers and our national defense, can only be transported from mines to steel mills by ship in the Great Lakes. Stabenow met with members of the Detroit District of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard, and Customs and Border Protection. During the meeting, they discussed the need to upgrade and replace the aging lock infrastructure as well as Great Lakes safety and security.

"The Soo Locks are the gateway for Great Lakes freighters carrying staple foods like wheat and materials our manufacturers and military depend on," said Stabenow. "A failure of the aging locks causing even a temporary outage could cost our economy millions of dollars- a cost we cannot afford. I am fully committed to working with the Army Corps to secure the necessary funding to make upgrades and build a replacement lock, ensuring this vital gateway remains open."

The Soo Locks are the most critical infrastructure supporting the Great Lakes Navigation System, enabling ships to navigate the St. Mary's River connecting Lake Superior and Lake Huron. The two operating locks at Sault Ste. Marie, the MacArthur Lock and Poe Lock, were constructed in 1948 and 1968 respectively.

While upwards of 80 million tons of commodities pass through the Soo Locks annually, only the Poe Lock has the necessary dimensions to pass the largest vessels in operation. Iron ore transported through the Poe Lock and the steel and goods produced from it account for 3.2% of the U.S. gross domestic product. In the event the Poe Lock is out of service, approximately 70% of the Great Lakes tonnage would be unable to pass.