(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:

The 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.