Following Congressional approval and a presidential signature, legislation authorizing funding for a second lock that can handle the large 1000-footers on the Great Lakes within the Soo Locks system brings the project a step closer to happening.
Earlier this month, President Trump signed the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 which included the Soo Lock Post-Authorization Change report to authorize construction of a second Poe-sized lock.
The MTD has worked with its affiliates and Great Lakes shipping interests to spotlight the need for a second large lock. MTD Secretary-Treasurer Daniel Duncan toured the Soo Locks in fall 2015 with representatives from the AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department and MTD-affiliated Machinists to call attention to the situation.
“A second Poe-sized lock was authorized in 1968, but has languished under several [presidential] administrations,” said James Weakley, president of the Lake Carriers’ Association, upon the measure’s passage. (Weakley took part in the 2015 Soo Locks tour.)
“For far too long, America’s economy has been at risk because we have only one Poe-sized lock,” Weakley added. “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 project is expected to cost just under $1 billion and take sever years to complete.
The Soo Locks are located between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. The system allows commercial and pleasure crafts to sail between the higher waters of Superior and the rest of the waterways. It is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. Besides the Poe Lock, which was built in 1968 to handle the largest vessels on the Lakes, the system includes two reduced-sized facilities – the MacArthur Lock (built 1943), which can handle smaller commercial vessels as well as pleasure boats, and the Davis Lock (built 1914), which only handles pleasure crafts.