Soo Locks are one step closer to building new lock

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) — The effort to build a new lock at the Soo Locks is one step closer to moving forward after a new study done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The study established a new cost benefit ratio that calculated the cost of the actual project, and how necessary it is for national security and domestic trade.

More than $75 million metric tons of cargo passes through the Soo Locks every year.

Among that cargo is 100 percent of the tectonite mined in the United States, which fuels the steel industry.

On Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its Economic Validation Study, after about two years of research.

“It does feel like it’s been going on for a long time, so it’s a big relief,” said Joanne Gray, chief of construction and technical support at the Soo Locks.

In the study, the Corps of Engineers reached an acceptable cost benefit ratio of 2.42.

They say that’s the next step towards getting the project into the federal budget.

“This is a part of reflecting a United States-wide strategic picture of infrastructure,” said U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman. “That’s why this is important.”

The study highlights the fact that there is no other comparable way of transporting steel products to the Soo Locks.

“It’s important to understand that this facility is unique,” Gray said. “It’s the only facility that doesn’t have alternative modes of transportation, and that was a big part of this new study.”

The project would cost the federal government $922 million.

It’s something lawmakers representing Michigan have been pushing hard for.

“We need to have good, solid, forward thinking numbers when it comes to evaluating infrastructure,” Bergman said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is requesting that the president set aside the almost one billion dollars in the 2020 fiscal year budget.

That would also have to be approved by Congress.

The Corps of Engineers says the project would take about seven to ten years to complete.

by Connor Hansen

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