Construction of new navigational supersized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., will begin in 2019.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the operators of the canal, released its work plan for the 2019 fiscal year on Nov. 21.
The corps has allocated US$32 million for the design and start of construction on a new lock, capable of handling the largest freighters on the Great Lakes. More funding will be rolled out as construction continues over the next 10 years.
Only two of the four locks at the American canal are currently operational. One of the locks can accommodate the largest ships transiting between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, a vital North American iron ore and grain shipping corridor.
The existing Poe Lock, opened nearly 50 years ago, carries more than 90 per cent of all marine cargoes on this waterway. Its failure for any length of time would be catastrophic to the American manufacturing supply chain on the lower lakes.
The project was first authorized in 1986 but stalled over the next three decades.
"This is the moment we have been waiting for more than 30 years," said lim Weakley, president of the Cleveland-based Lake Carriers' Association.
"The announcement by the Army Corps that the construction program for the new lock at the Soo will officially begin is the direct result of the tireless efforts of so many people and organizations banding together to update one of the most critical pieces of American infrastructure. It is a great day for Michigan, the Great Lakes region, and the...