Soo Locks closed for repairs and maintenance

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, said the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., are closed to navigation until March 25. The Corps will use this time to perform maintenance on the lock structures.

“The Soo Locks are vital as a single point of passage for shipping from the upper to lower Great Lakes,” said Lt. Col. Greg Turner, district engineer. “Maintaining our existing infrastructure and building the new lock are keys to providing a resilient link in the Great Lakes navigation system now in the decades to come.”

With the annual closure, vessel traffic ceases through the Soo Locks for the season. This year during the closure, the Poe Lock will be dewatered. Crews are busy with a variety of maintenance projects in preparation to reopen in March.

The MacArthur Lock has repairs partially completed to the gate operating machinery. Additional work taking place includes inspection of gate anchorages, electronics updates and operating shelter maintenance. Work on the Poe Lock includes gate structural repairs, gate anchorage link replacement, gate stressing checks, gate tieback installation, repairs to concrete gate sills, emptying valve and valve machinery repairs, electronics updates and debris removal from the drainage system. The Poe Lock will also undergo a formal periodic inspection.

The last vessel to traverse the Poe Lock for the 2019-2020 shipping season was the 1,000-foot freighter Burns Harbor. The ship was up-bound from Burns Harbor, Ind., headed for Superior, Wis., for winter lay-up. The ship completed locking through Jan. 15 at 6:44 a.m. This last vessel through the locks marks the end of a busy season and the beginning of yearly maintenance.

More than 4,500 vessels, carrying up to 80 million tons of cargo, maneuver through the locks annually. Iron ore, coal, wheat and limestone are among the most frequently carried commodities. Opened in 1969, the Poe Lock is 1,200 feet long. The MacArthur Lock was opened in 1943 and is 800 feet long.