Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Wednesday announced the state has identified about $50 million in infrastructure funding to commit to an upgrade of the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie. The state has also set aside more than $330 million for road improvements for the upcoming budget year.
“Upgrading the Soo Locks is one of the most critical ways we can ensure the continued success of Michigan’s economic comeback,” says Snyder. “The nation’s entire economy depends on the daily operation of the Soo Locks. Without it, we would not be able to deliver the American iron ore that domestic steel manufacturers depend on to run their mills, and our manufacturing industry would not have access to the high-quality domestic steel it needs to make everything from auto parts to office furniture.
“Our state, regional, and national economies depend on this resource, and we need to do everything we can to ensure it operates at full capacity. Michigan is leading the way by stepping up with significant state funding to show our commitment, not just with words, but by helping the federal government jumpstart the construction of a new lock.”
The Soo Locks are managed by the federal government. The Army Corps of Engineers has put the cost of an upgrade at nearly $1 billion. President Donald Trump recently urged the crucial need to modernize the locks and has stated publicly that large-scale infrastructure projects leveraging nonfederal investments will be moved to the top of the priority list. Michigan has demonstrated its commitment to the upgrade by offering to fund a share of the project.
“We are following President Trump’s call for major infrastructure projects to keep us competitive globally,” says Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who is the Snyder administration’s lead on the Soo Locks upgrade. “It will take all levels of government working together to get this done, and that’s what we are demonstrating here today. We’re working together and more proactively than ever to commit to the upgrade and secure our economic success in Michigan.”
One freighter that crosses through the Soo Locks carries the cargo of 3,000 semi-trucks. If the locks become inoperable, the shipment of iron ore would halt, affecting manufacturing. Congress authorized the lock rebuild in 1986 but has not appropriated the funding needed to execute the project.