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Vessels have begun passing through the Soo Locks

Courtesy of NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
Creative Commons

The Edgar B. Speer was the first ship to pass through the Poe Lock shortly after midnight last Friday to mark the start of the Great Lakes shipping season. Officials anticipate some 8,000 vessels will pass through the locks this year.

Cargo vessels have been lining up since last Wednesday to get through the locks in Sault St. Marie.

Ice can cause shipping issues this time of year. But Jeff Harrington of the US Army Corp of Engineers in Sault St. Marie says ice levels are looking normal.

“I can say that up until very recently, there was about 80% ice cover on Lake Superior. As far as I’m aware, looking at some of the AIS information, GPS locations, vessels are making it through,” said Harrington.

Harrington's team is repairing the Macarthur lock, which will not be ready for vessels until late April, early May. The Davis and Sabin locks are currently decommissioned.

“The MacArthur lock is a 1942 construction timeframe, completed in 1943," said Harrington. "And we're replacing some of the original machinery.”

95% of the nation’s iron ore passes through the Soo Locks on its way to manufacturing plants. Overall, the Great Lakes seaway systems generate $45 billion of economic activity and account for 238,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada.

Rick Brewer has been news director at WCMU since February 2024.
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