New $1 Billion Soo Locks Project Starts
There's new construction at the Soo Locks. A $1 billion project to build a new lock got started last week, with an anticipated completion date of November 2021. The new facility will be built on the site of former Davis and Sabin Locks.
The new lock will be built in phases. The initial phase going on right now sees channel widening and deepening to accommodate the structure. The next phase will bring rehabilitation of the approach walls further upstream; that rehabilitation process will allow the contractor to use the existing walls - making them safe for modern ships and vessels to tie up and wait their eventual turn though the new lock. Finally, a third phase will see the actual construction of the new lock chamber, rehabilitation of downtstream walls, and plenty of finish work.
A new, modern lock will allow easier access for Great Lakes ships. It will also solve the dilemma that older locks pose - which don't allow larger tonnage ships passage. According to news sources, "over 85% of commodity tonnage through the Soo Locks is restricted by vessel size to the Poe Lock; the new construction should work to alleviate this problem.
Construction and improvements to the Soo Locks couldn't come at a more-visible time. According to news sources, "....a 2015 Department of Homeland Security study on the impact of an unexpected Soo Locks closure, [found that] the Soo Locks are [a] nationally critical infrastructure and the reliability of this critical node in the Great Lakes Navigation System is essential to U.S. manufacturing and National Security."
The Soo Locks play a vital role in the shipping industry on the Great Lakes. The series of multiple channels was first opened in 1855.