Wednesday, May 30, 2018
MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. – Less than an hour’s drive from one of the busiest trade crossings in the Great Lakes region, Gov. Rick Snyder, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and House Speaker Tom Leonard gathered on the porch of the Grand Hotel during the annual Mackinac Policy Conference to announce significant state support for a desperately needed upgrade of the Soo Locks.
“Upgrading the Soo Locks is one of the most critical ways we can ensure the continued success of Michigan’s economic comeback,” said Gov. Rick Snyder. “The nation’s entire economy depends on the daily operation of the Soo Locks. Without it, we would not be able to deliver the American iron ore that domestic steel manufacturers depend on to run their mills, and our manufacturing industry would not have access to the high quality domestic steel it needs to make everything from auto parts to office furniture. Our state, regional and national economies depend on this resource and we need to do everything we can to ensure it operates at full capacity. Michigan is leading the way by stepping up with significant state funding to show our commitment not just with words but by helping the federal government jumpstart the construction of a new lock.”
“We are following President Trump’s call for major infrastructure projects to keep us competitive globally,” said Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who is the Snyder Administration’s lead on the Soo Locks upgrade. “It will take all levels of government working together to get this done, and that’s what we are demonstrating here today. We’re working together and more proactively than ever to commit to the upgrade and secure our economic success in Michigan.”
Working together the past several weeks, state leadership identified roughly $50 million in infrastructure funding to commit to the Soo Locks upgrade, while still setting aside more than $330 million for road improvements for the upcoming budget year.
The Soo Locks are managed by the federal government, with the Army Corps of Engineers putting the cost of an upgrade at nearly a billion dollars. President Donald Trump, in urging support for a locks upgrade last month, has stated publicly that large-scale infrastructure projects leveraging non-federal investments will be moved to the top of the priority list. By offering to fund a share of the project, Michigan is demonstrating its commitment to the upgrade.
Just one freighter that crosses through the Soo Locks carries the cargo of 3,000 semi-trucks. If the locks become inoperable, the shipment of iron ore would come to a screeching halt, immediately affecting manufacturing and disrupting a vast portion of the U.S. economy. Congress authorized the lock rebuild in 1986 but has not appropriated the funding needed to execute the project.
Gov. Snyder, Lt. Gov. Calley and legislative leadership were also joined at the press conference today by Jim Weakly of the Lake Carriers Association and Hanna Naltner of Steelcase to demonstrate statewide support for funding the locks upgrade.
For more information about the Soo Locks, visit www.michigan.gov/fixthesoolocks. You can also follow discussion of the issue on social media via #fixthesoolocks.