President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, legislation that includes the construction of a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., to move forward. The president had pledged to “fix” the Soo Locks in April, the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA) said in a Thursday announcement.
“It’s really exciting that it was signed. Now we have to look at appropriations,” said Deb DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. The new lock is projected to cost approximately $922 million. It will take seven years to build.
LCA President James H.I. Weakley thanked Trump for being a staunch supporter of the lock.
“A second Poe-sized lock was authorized in 1986 but has languished under several administrations. It was President Trump who made this a national priority,” Weakley said.
The locks at Sault Ste. Marie allow vessels, some more than 1,000 feet long, to move between Lake Superior and the lower four Great Lakes. In a typical year, as much as 80 million tons of cargo pass through the Soo Locks. Iron ore for steel production is the single largest commodity, but the locks also handle significant volumes of coal, grain and limestone. Approximately 90 percent of that cargo transits the Poe Lock. The other lock, the MacArthur, is too small to accommodate the larger, most efficient ships working the lakes.
“For far too long, America’s economy has been at risk because we have only one Poe-size lock,” said Weakley. “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.”