(Washington DC - January 07, 2018) - One of the most vital pieces of our
nation’s economic and defense infrastructure, the Soo Locks, is located in the
Northeast corner of Chippewa County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
The first Soo Lock was constructed in 1855 and less than 30 vessels
navigated the channel in its first year of operation. Today, there are four
locks in "The Soo.” Due to age and disrepair, only two of the four locks are
operable — the Poe and MacArthur Locks. Up to 10,000 ships per shipping season
navigate these two locks. In fact, over 70 percent of U.S. vessels rely solely
on the Poe Lock to make their way through the Great Lakes and St. Mary’s River.
During shipping season, the Poe Lock alone handles an average of 12 freighters
per day. Since 1969, there have been various upgrades and repairs done to the
Poe Lock in an effort to keep it fully functional. And as the Great Lakes
shipping season comes to a close, it’s important we do not forget the need for a
new Poe-sized Lock.
Data from Department of Homeland Security:
following details are grim: According to a study released by the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) in 2015 that referenced the effects of unexpected Soo
Locks closures, “Depending on what time of year the closure occurred,
approximately 75 percent of the U.S. integrated steel production would cease
within 2–6 weeks after the closure of the Poe Lock. Approximately 80 percent of
iron ore mining operations, and nearly 100 percent of the North American
appliances, automobile, construction equipment, farm equipment, mining
equipment, and railcar production would shut down.” The DHS study also concludes
that if there were a lock closure, Michigan’s unemployment rate could reach 22.6
percent, Indiana’s 22.0 percent, Ohio’s 17.2 percent, Illinois’ 14.0 percent,
Wisconsin’s 12.7 percent, Pennsylvania’s 11.2 percent, New York’s 9.9 percent
and Minnesota’s 9.6 percent. The results would plummet our nation’s economy into
a deeper recession than we experienced during the Great Recession in 2008.
Congressman Bergman's Statement on the Soo Locks:
I have authored
legislation, the Soo Locks Modernization Act (H.R. 2806), to authorize
construction of a new Poe-sized lock. Additionally, the US Army Corps of
Engineers is in the process of conducting an updated economic study that was
planned to conclude by the end of 2017. However, the economic study ran out of
money last Fall, and I have led the fight to appropriate funds to complete the
project by the summer of this year.
I've also led a tour of the Soo
Locks with members of Michigan's Congressional Delegation, both U.S. Senators,
and the Governor; highlighting the importance of this critical infrastructure,
and spreading awareness of the economic and national security implications of
the Locks. In addition, one of my first acts as your Representative was to lead
a bipartisan letter introducing the Locks modernization project to President
Trump. Members of Congress from across the Country and across the political
spectrum are joining together in support of the Soo Locks.
We can no
longer accept the inaction that has put our country at an economic and national
security risk. Congress must work together with President Trump to bring
America’s critical infrastructure into the 21st century.