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MacArthur lock opening delayed for the fourth time in three months

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Detroit District
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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers originally projected the MacArthur lock would be open by the end of April 2022.

The opening of the MacArthur lock in Sault St. Marie is being delayed for a fourth time, two months later than the original estimate.

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers originally projected the MacArthur lock would be operational by the end of April.

Engineers are having a difficult time navigating the tight spaces in the lock given the size of the components that need to be replaced.

"Some of the components, some of the gears, up to couple of 1000 pounds in weight, they're underground in galleries and a lot of this equipment was installed as the lock was being built," said Kevin Sprague, the Soo Office Area Engineer with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

Additionally, some of the parts need to be cut in half and then reassembled in the lock.

The U.S. Coast Guard at Sault St. Marie confirmed the delays are causing additional stress on the only functioning passage at the Soo, the Poe Lock.

Vessels transporting products like iron ore and grain are being delayed up to 90 minutes. When both the Poe and MacArthur are open, smaller ships like tour boats and cruise lines use the MacArthur.

"This is really causing a lot of issues with traffic. So we're actually experiencing delays to a lot of the cargo vessels at this point. That's a significant issue," said Sprague.

Sprague mentioned they’ve also had issues with their construction contract and things have not gone as planned with the contractor, Ryba Marine Construction in Cheboygan. Ryba declined WCMU's interview request saying they don’t comment on client projects.

MacArthur is now projected to be open by Tuesday June 21.

Rick joined WCMU as a general assignment reporter in March 2022.