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The SIU of Canada-crewed Thunder Bay enters the Poe Lock.

The Dredge Wire newsletter reported on May 1 that President Donald Trump told a Michigan audience it was time to build a new lock in the Soo Locks system.

Citing the Detroit News as its source, Dredge Wire quoted the President in his April 29 remarks, “The Soo Locks are going to hell. You know that, right? And we’re going to get them fixed up.”

The MTD has worked with the Lake Carriers’ Association and the Seaway Task Force in a coalition of ship operators and unions to call attention to need for a new Poe-sized lock at the complex between Lake Superior and the rest of the Great Lakes. (The Poe Lock is the only one designed to handle the largest vessels that sail between the upper and lower Lakes.)

James Weakley, president of the Lake Carriers’ Association, termed the president’s statement “a big deal.” He added, “For the first time, we have the president’s attention.”

For years, Great Lakes’ legislators from both parties at the state and federal levels have called attention to the problem. The newsletter wrote that U.S. Reps. Jack Bergman, Paul Mitchell and John Moolenaar (all R-MI) discussed the situation with Trump during his visit to the state.

Delegates to the 2017 MTD Convention passed the “Maritime Modernization” resolution which included language for a new lock: “One specific example that affects U.S., Canadian and international commerce is the bottleneck located at the Soo Locks, which connects Lake Superior with the lower Great lakes. The facility has only one lock that can support all the merchant vessels, including the thousand-footers, that sail along those waters. Another lock is capable of moving only the smaller commercial ships. Should either lock be closed during sailing season, the economic repercussions of delayed deliveries of iron ore, coal, salt and other goods would be catastrophic.”

Congress authorized the construction of a new lock in 1986, but funding has never been granted. In 2015, the Department of Homeland Security pointed out a 2007 Army Corps of Engineers study stating there was no need for a second Poe-sized lock contained flawed data.