Michigan’s congressional delegation is getting ready to fight for a big piece of federal spending on infrastructure. They want roughly $1 billion to upgrade the shipping lanes of the Soo Locks.
“There’s been no comprehensive improvement in the locks in over 50 years, and we are concerned we are on borrowed time,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow.
The locks in Sault Sainte Marie don’t have enough room to handle modern, larger ships. The locks also have a lot of aging components.
The locks are in Congressman Jack Bergman’s northern Michigan district. He said the project should rank at or near the top of the nation’s infrastructure needs.
“It will reflect our country’s ability to actually prioritize long-term projects, get ‘em done, so that our economy and our safety and security are not compromised or diminished,” he said.
Bergman said it would be a disaster for the national security or the economy if something were to shut down the locks.
Congressman Fred Upton agrees. He said re-tooling and expanding the locks is an economic imperative.
“You can’t get to the growth rates that we want without investing in the future, and without it, we are really in trouble,” he said.
Congress is waiting for the Army Corps of Engineers to wrap up a study on the economic and security implications of the locks before deciding what’s next.