Soo Locks open as 2020 shipping season begins

The up-bound Motor Vessel H. Lee White, 704-foot long freighter, was the first ship to enter the Poe Lock. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District photo)

DETROIT (WLUC) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, announces the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Wednesday, March 25, marking the beginning of the 2020 Great Lakes shipping season.

The up-bound Motor Vessel H. Lee White, 704-foot long freighter, was the first ship to enter the Poe Lock. It was coming from Sturgeon Bay, Michigan, and headed to Superior, Wisconsin, to load cargo.

"Enabling navigation on the Great Lakes by maintaining and operating these locks are the District's most critical tasks," said Lt. Col. Greg Turner, district engineer, Detroit District. "On top of the amazing work that the team did over the 70 day maintenance period, we're taking deliberate steps to safeguard our workforce and ensure continued operations during the COVID-19 pandemic."

The Detroit District is taking precautionary measures to protect its workforce, while also remaining fully operational, leveraging physical distancing, flexible work schedules, tele-work, technology and virtual meetings to keep projects moving forward.

The locks were officially closed on January 15 and underwent critical repairs and maintenance during the 10 week long winter shutdown. Work on the Poe Lock included 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 MacArthur Lock work included repairs to the gate operating machinery, inspection of gate anchorages, electronics updates and operating shelter maintenance. The MacArthur Lock, located on the south side of the Poe, will continue undergoing maintenance until mid-April.

The Detroit District operates and maintains the Soo Locks along with 81 harbors and connecting channels on lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and the portion of Lake Erie that borders the state of Michigan. Located on the St. Marys River, Michigan, the locks have been a part of the Corps' navigation mission since 1881.



 
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