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Soo Locks expansion project finalizes next phase of construction

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit Districts Post|
Courtesy of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers

The next phase of construction of a new shipping lock in Sault St. Marie will begin in the summer of 2022 after the construction contract was finalized earlier this week.

At one billion dollars, it’s the largest phase so far in the project to build a new Soo Lock.

"This is the lion's share of the remaining construction work and is a monumental achievement for the project," said Mollie Mahoney, project manager of the Soo Locks expansion project with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

However, there is still eight hundred million dollars needed over the next three years for the project to stay on schedule for completion by 2030.

Last month, the Corp announced they were going to need nearly three times the original estimated funds to finish the job due to inflation and supply chain disruptions.

Mahoney says the Corp has submitted a report requesting more funds to both the House and Senate.

"The authorization committees are reviewing that information and will potentially including a reauthorization for the project," said Mahoney on a phone call with WCMU.

The Soo Locks expansion project is considered a highly bi-partisan issue and has received support from nearly all of Michigan’s congressional delegation.

Jim Weakley is President of the Lake Carriers’ Association, a group that represents the commercial shipping industry in the Great Lakes. Weakley says the Corp took immediate action to acquire more funds in Congress and is confident this will get done.

"They [the Corp] moved at lightning speed, to deliver an updated cost estimate to the authorization committees, so they could get authorized," said Weakley.

After the Corp announced the price tag was inflated, Weakley said he thought the Corp was going to miss the window to reapply for the funds. Instead he and said he’s never been happier to be proven wrong.

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