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GLIN==> New Soo lock moves closer to reality
- Subject: GLIN==> New Soo lock moves closer to reality
- From: Kirk Haverkamp <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2001 13:38:02 -0500
- Delivered-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Delivered-To: email@example.com
- List-Name: GLIN-Announce
- Organization: Great Lakes Commission
- User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.0; en-US; rv:0.9.4) Gecko/20011019 Netscape6/6.2
For immediate release
A new large lock at the Soo - a step closer to reality
Ann Arbor, Mich.— The Great Lakes Commission and other maritime transportation
advocates are applauding a major breakthrough in the 20-year-long effort
to build a new large lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
Congress recently appropriated $3 million toward the project, including $1.5
million to begin actual construction. Following several appropriations for
planning and design, these are the first federal funds to be directed to
construction of the new lock, which will ease the passage of large vessels
between Lake Superior ports and steel mills and power plants on other Great
“This new lock will economically benefit our entire region,” said Nathaniel
E. Robinson, chairman of the Great Lakes Commission. “We’re excited to see
that Congress has recognized the significance of this worthy project and
shown its support by appropriating funds to begin work.”
The federal funding is in addition to nearly $5 million already contributed
by the Great Lakes states of Michigan, Illinois and Pennsylvania. The other
five Great Lakes states have also agreed to contribute a share of the cost
and are devising funding strategies.
The new large lock will replace two smaller ones built more than 80 years
ago. Presently, only one lock at the complex on the St. Marys River at Sault
Ste. Marie, Michigan can handle the 1,000-foot freighters that make up the
backbone of the Great Lakes shipping fleet.
“Right now, all of our large ships have to pass through that one lock,” said
George Ryan, president of the Lake Carriers Association. “If an accident
or sabotage were to disable that lock, we’d lose nearly three-quarters of
our carrying capacity between the upper and lower Great Lakes.”
All U.S. domestic iron ore comes from the Lake Superior region and most of
it passes through the Soo Locks. The 80 - 90 million tons of cargo that pass
through the Soo Locks each year also includes grain for overseas markets
and low-sulfur western coal for eastern utilities.
“Studies have found that waterborne transportation is safer, more fuel-efficient
and has fewer harmful emissions than rail and truck transportation,” Robinson
said. “This new lock will help ensure that this beneficial mode of transport
continues to play a vital role in Great Lakes commerce.”
Construction of the new lock could begin as early as next fall, with the
building of coffer dams necessary to dewater of the aging Sabin and Davis
locks, which it will replace. The project is expected to take an estimated
five years, at a total cost of $225 million.
In addition to beginning construction, the funds approved by Congress last
week will also pay for continued planning, engineering and design work.
Efforts to build a second large lock have been under way since the 1980s.
Those efforts received significant assistance under the provisions of the
Water Resources Development Acts of 1996 and 1999, in which Congress reduced
the states’ share of the project and allowed it to be paid over 50 years,
interest-free. The Great Lakes Commission has since agreed to become the
nonfederal project sponsor responsible for coordinating the payment of the
Contact: Mike Donahue, President/CEO, Great Lakes Commission, 734-665-9135