On October 23, President Trump signed into law America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, legislation that among other things authorizes the construction of a second Poe-sized lock at the Soo Locks complex in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - a project long identified by Great Lakes maritime labor and industry as crucial to the nation's economic and national security.
The locks at Sault Ste. Marie allow vessels, some more than 1,000 feet long, to move between Lake Superior and the lower four Great Lakes. In a typical year, as much as 80 million tons of cargo pass through the Soo Locks. Approximately 90 percent of that cargo transits the Poe Lock. The other lock, the MacArthur, is too small to accommodate the most efficient ships working the Lakes. Iron ore for steel production is the single largest commodity, but the locks also handle significant volumes of coal, grain and limestone, the Lake Carriers' Association reported.
"A second Poe-sized lock was authorized in 1986 but has languished under several administrations. It was President Trump who made this a national priority," said Lake Carriers' Association President Jim Weakley, who also serves as president of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, a coalition of which American Maritime Officers is a member. "For far too long America's economy has been at risk because we have only one Poe-size lock. The Department of Homeland Security predicts 11 million Americans will lose their jobs if the Poe Lock is down for just six months. President Trump's signing of this bill means we can now concentrate on funding the lock."
S. 3021 authorizes approximately $922.4 million in federal funding for the construction of a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, which is projected to take seven years to build. Although the law authorizes the project, the funding will still need to be appropriated by Congress.