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Soo Locks Project Moves Forward, Will Impact Lake Erie

Patch logo Patch 2/10/2020 Chris Mosby
water next to the ocean: The Soo Locks phase one construction project, with a nearly $53 million price tag, was awarded to Trade West Construction. © Courtesy of Rick Uldricks The Soo Locks phase one construction project, with a nearly $53 million price tag, was awarded to Trade West Construction.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A $53 million contract has been awarded for the first phase of construction on the new Soo Locks. The locks give access to ships traveling into the lower Great Lakes, like Lake Erie.

Trade West Construction will handle phase one of the Soo Locks project, which includes deepening the upstream approach channel to a depth of 30 feet, ensuring ships can pass through the area. Construction will begin in spring 2020 and will take two years to finish.

"I am pleased to see that the construction of the New Soo Lock is progressing," said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat whose district stretches from Toledo to Lakewood. "This is an important milestone in the project and will ensure the project stays on time and on budget. The Soo Lock must remain fully operational. Without it, our national security and the economies of not only the Great Lakes region but the entire country would be undermined."

Phases two and three of the project are still being designed. The Army Corps of Engineers said teams will rehabilitate the upstream approach walls and build a new lock chamber. The work will also modern ships to tie up and wait to pass through the new locks.

The latter phases will be opened to bidders this month. The third phase, construction of the lock chamber, will be opened to bidder in spring 2021.

"This is an exciting time for the Corps and the Great Lakes. We look forward to working with the contractors and meeting all the milestones in this first phase of the project, which is critical to the success of the entire project." said Lt. Col. Greg Turner, district engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Soo Locks are located at St. Marys River in Michigan. The locks help ships move through the 21 foot elevation change within the St. Marys Falls Canal. Most ships are confined to moving through one particular lock — the Poe lock — to travel through the canal. With construction, the Army Corps will oversee the building of a second Poe-sized lock. This would ease congestion and encourage use of the Soo Locks.

"Contingent on efficient funding, the New Lock at the Soo project, estimated to cost nearly $1 billion, could be complete in as few as seven years from the start of construction," said Mollie Mahoney, project manager.

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