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The Steelworkers-crewed Edwin H. Gott enters the Poe Lock.

The Steelworkers-crewed Edwin H. Gott enters the Poe Lock.

The Detroit Free Press is reporting the Army Corps of Engineers and the Office of Management and Budget have agreed to provide $1.35 million for a cost-benefit study to look into the need for a second facility in the Soo Locks that could handle 1,000-foot vessels.

In a joint statement released by Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, the legislators thanked the Obama administration for approving this review.

“The Soo Locks are the gateway for the Great Lakes freighters carrying staple foods like wheat, and iron ore our manufacturers and military depend on,” noted Stabenow. “This support will allow the Army Corps to start the process of making upgrades and building a replacement lock.”

“This funding will help the Army Corps of Engineers take steps toward making critical upgrades to the locks so we can continue to safely and efficiently transport cargo throughout the Great Lakes,” added Peters.

Earlier this autumn, representatives of the MTD were part of an international delegation from the Seaway Task Force to tour the Soo Locks. Task Force Chair (and MTD Executive Board Member) Lynn Tucker pointed out the need for a second lock capable of handling the largest vessels plying the Great Lakes.

“When a lock is out of service, it’s not a problem just for workers in the United States and Canada, but for workers around the world,” Tucker declared. “A new lock at the Soo is important for global competition, national security and jobs.”

In addition to the Task Force and the Michigan congressional delegation, the Toledo and Michigan port councils have passed resolutions calling for a new lock.

The Poe Lock is the only one of the four in the Soo system that is capable of moving the 1,000-foot vessels between Lakes Superior and Huron. It was rebuilt in 1968. The MacArthur Lock – opened in 1943 – is able to handle smaller ships. The Davis Lock (1914) is operational for still smaller craft while the Sabin Lock (1919) is no longer in service. Plans call for the proposed lock to be built where the Davis and Sabin are located.

Detroit Free Press reporter Todd Spangler wrote that Congress actually authorized the construction of a lock the same size as Poe some 30 years ago, but funding was never provided.