At the Urging of Senators Peters and Stabenow, Obama Administration Approves $1.35 Million to Help Upgrade Soo Locks

Soo Locks Critical to Supporting Great Lakes Economy, National Security

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow today applauded the Obama Administration for approving $1.35 million to review critical upgrades to the aging locks at Sault Ste. Marie. In June, the Senators called on Office of Management and Budget Director Sean Donovan to approve the Army Corps of Engineers’ request to help replace the Davis and Sabin Locks with a lock of similar size to the Poe Lock. Currently, 70 percent of cargo vessels, including all of the large lake freighters, are forced to use the Poe Lock because they are too large to use others. The Davis and Sabin Locks, both of which are nearly 100 years old, are no longer in use.                                          

“The Soo Locks are the busiest in the United States, transporting nearly 80 million tons of goods and raw materials every year that supply Michigan’s agricultural, mining and manufacturing industries,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Great Lakes Task Force. “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. I’m proud to work with Senator Stabenow and the Administration to help ensure the Soo Locks can continue driving commerce in our state and our region.”

“The Soo Locks are the gateway for Great Lakes freighters carrying staple foods like wheat and iron ore our manufacturers and military depend on,” said Senator Stabenow, Co-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. “This support will allow the Army Corps to start the process of making upgrades and building a replacement lock. A failure of the aging locks causing even a temporary outage could cost our economy millions of dollars—a cost we cannot afford. I will continue work with the Administration to make sure this this vital gateway remains open.”

The Soo Locks are critically important to Michigan's economy and our national security. Iron ore, a commodity vital to our nation's defense and manufacturing industry, is only able to travel from mine to mill via ship in the Great Lakes through the Soo Locks. In March, Senators Peters and Stabenow urged the Army Corps Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy to request support for this funding.