The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Detroit District announced the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, are closed to navigation until March 25. The Corps will use this time to perform critical maintenance on the lock structures.
“The Soo Locks are critical to the Great Lakes Navigation System, and we have a tremendous team that operates and maintains them throughout the year,” said Lt. Col. Greg Turner, district engineer. “While we’ve begun work on building the new lock, it is as important as ever that we keep the existing infrastructure in good working order – this is our highest priority.”
With the annual closure, vessel traffic ceases through the Soo Locks for the season. While closed to navigation, both the MacArthur and Poe locks are dewatered, and crews are busy with a variety of maintenance projects in preparation to reopen in March.
The last vessel to traverse the locks for the 2018-19 shipping season was Motor Vessel Manitoulin. The ship was up bound from Sarnia, Ontario, bound for ESSAR Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The ship completed locking through the night of Jan. 15.
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 opened in 1943 and is 800 feet long. To find more details about the Soo Locks, visit lre.usace.army.mil.