Michigan’s Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie are a connector for shipping iron, coal, grain and other materials from the shores of Lake Superior to the rest of the country. In 2016, U.S.-flagged Great Lakes freighters moved 83.3 million tons of cargo, according to the Cleveland-based Lake Carriers Association.
Currently, the biggest of the locks, the Poe Lock, is operating normally. But many worry an unexpected breakdown of the lock could throw the shipping industry into chaos.
An upgrade to convert two smaller locks into another lock the size of Poe has mostly languished without funding since it was initially authorized 1986. Michigan’s Congressional delegation has renewed the push to fund this project by appealing to other members of Congress and President Donald Trump’s administration, but it could be a while before that happens.