Lt. Gov. Brian Calley: There's no time to waste in fixing and upgrading the Soo Locks

Gov. Snyder and Calley committed to working with President Trump on his commitment to Michigan and U.S.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Lt. Gov. Brian Calley today, visiting the Soo Locks for the latest operational update, stressed the need to renew and accelerate federal efforts to fix and upgrade this essential national infrastructure before serious harm can occur to the U.S. economy.

Gov. Rick Snyder and Calley have been calling on the federal government to invest in the Soo Locks for years. Congress approved construction of a new lock in 1986 but has never approved the necessary funding. Last weekend, President Trump made a commitment to the people of Michigan that he would get the project done. On Monday, Gov. Snyder designated Lt. Gov. Calley as the administration’s lead to work with the Trump administration on making the Soo Locks investment a reality.

“The Soo Locks are in dire need of an upgrade and the clock is ticking on this aging infrastructure,” Calley said during a visit to the Soo Locks Wednesday. “The Soo Locks represent millions of American jobs — the locks are quite literally an artery in the heart of the American economy.”  

Michigan’s congressional delegation have been strong advocates in Washington for the upgrade, including Congressman Jack Bergman, whose district includes the Soo Locks.

“Since taking office, building a new Poe-sized Lock has been my number one infrastructure priority for the First District of Michigan,” said Congressman Jack Bergman. “Last week I had the opportunity to speak with President Donald Trump about the critical need for a new Lock and the economic impact a Lock failure would have not only on Michigan, but the entire country. I appreciate the Trump Administration and Lt. Governor Calley’s commitment to continuing the work we’ve started, and I look forward to working together with our State and Federal partners to accomplish this critical task.”

A 2015 analysis by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security found that an unexpected closure of the Soo Locks, especially during peak shipping season, could result in a cascading collapse of the U.S. economy. The report estimates significant disruptions to the shipping of steel, causing the production of almost all North American appliances, automobiles, and railcars, as well as construction, farm and mining equipment to cease within weeks.

“The Soo Locks represent the lynchpin of our economy,” said Tom Rayburn, director of environmental and regulatory affairs for Lake Carriers’ Association. “There is no other single point in America’s manufacturing supply chain whose failure would tear through the economy so quickly and profoundly in every state. The time is past due for the smaller lock to give way to a new large lock that will share the burden for 93 percent of the cargo reliant on the Poe Lock. We are excited that the momentum is building to finally bring this new lock to fruition and are hopeful construction will begin sooner rather than later.” 

Of the four locks in Sault Ste. Marie, only the Poe Lock is large enough for today’s vessels and two of the locks are closed. In order to meet and protect economic demand, a new Poe-sized Lock is required. Congress authorized construction in 1986 and it is currently estimated that $922 million will be needed for the project.

“The Army Corps. of Engineers does a tremendous job operating the Soo Locks efficiently despite the significant upgrade needed,” Calley continued. “I was 9 years old when the project was approved. I’m now the Lieutenant Governor and have a son older than that. Even in Washington, D.C., that’s an extraordinarily long time to take action. After funding is approved, the project could take up to another 10 years to complete. It is awesome that President Trump has now engaged on this project to fix the Soo Locks because I’m confident he can get something done.”

Calley and Snyder also launched a new website Tuesday, www.michigan.gov/fixthesoolocks, to help people from around the nation thank President Trump for his commitment to addressing this critical need while educating the public on how essential the Soo Locks are to the U.S. economy.

To learn more, visit the website, www.michigan.gov/fixthesoolocks or follow the hashtag #fixthesoolocks on Twitter.

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