The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) reports the New Lock at the Soo project at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., is on schedule as construction resumes on phase one and is initiated on phase two this week.
The Soo Locks are situated on the St. Marys River at Sault Ste. Marie, and allow vessels to transit the 21-foot elevation change at the St. Marys Falls Canal. Over 85% of commodity tonnage traveling through the Soo Locks is restricted by vessel size to the Poe Lock. The New Lock at the Soo project is constructing a second Poe-sized lock (110 feet by 1,200 feet) on the existing decommissioned Davis and Sabin locks site. The Soo Locks are a nationally critical infrastructure and this critical node’s reliability in the Great Lakes Navigation System is essential to U.S. manufacturing, according to a 2015 Department of Homeland Security study on impacts of an unexpected Soo Locks closure.
Trade West Construction, Inc., and joint venture Kokosing-Alberici began moving equipment to the site the week of April 12 and 19.
Trade West continues phase one, deepening the upstream channel to the Sabin and Davis Locks, which will be replaced by the new lock. USACE officials expect phase one completion in November 2021.
Kokosing-Alberici is starting phase two this year, rehabilitating the upstream approach walls. This will stabilize the existing approach walls allowing modern vessels to tie up and wait their turn to pass through the new lock. Phase two should be complete by fall 2023, with winter seasonal breaks.
“The Detroit District is looking forward to working with contractors Trade West and Kokosing-Alberici on phase one and phase two of the New Lock at the Soo,” said Lt. Col. Scott Katalenich, commander, USACE, Detroit District. “We recently had a partnering meeting with phase two contractors who are starting this year and are confident this project continues the successful construction of the new lock.”
The third phase, construction of the new lock chamber, will include rehabilitating downstream approach walls and is currently at the 95% design milestone. Bid solicitation should begin this summer with phase three construction starting in spring of 2022.