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Trump pledges to fix Soo Locks

May 2, 2018 10:11 AM

DHS says an unexpected six-month closure of Poe Lock would cost 11 million jobs

Aerial view of the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

Courtesy Great Lakes Seaway Partnership

Aerial view of the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

The following is text of a news release from the Great Lakes Seaway Partnership:

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump spoke on the aging Soo Locks at an event in Washington Township, Mich., on Saturday.

“The Soo Locks are going to hell,” Trump told the crowd. “You know that right? And we’re going to get them fixed up.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates that a six-month unexpected closure of the Poe Lock at Sault Ste. Marie would result in dire consequences for the national economy. The DHS projected that 11 million Americans would lose their jobs, and the state of Michigan’s unemployment would reach 22 percent, exceeding the peak unemployment rate of 15 percent during the Great Recession of 2008.

The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership is a coalition of leading U.S. and Canadian maritime organizations working to enhance public understanding of the benefits of commercial shipping in the Great Lakes Seaway region of North America. The organization manages an education-focused communications program and works closely with media, policymakers, community groups, allied industries, environmental stakeholders and the general public to highlight the positive attributes of marine transportation.

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System is a marine highway that extends 2,300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. Approximately 160 million tons of cargo travels over the system on an annual basis, supporting more than 227,000 jobs and $34 billion in economic activity.

For more information, visit www.greatlakesseaway.org.

The following is text of a news release from the American Great Lakes Ports Association (AGLPA):

A bipartisan group of 53 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter May 4 to President Trump sharing their appreciation for his recent focus on Soo Lock reconstruction. The legislators pledged their own commitment to the project and urged the White House to remain engaged.

The legislators were responding to an April 28 speech given by the president in Washington Township, Mich., in which he asked, "Do you know what the Soo Locks are? Well the Soo Locks are going to hell, and we're going to get that fixed up."

Congress authorized construction of a second large lock at the Soo in the 1986 Water Resources Development Act. The project stalled soon thereafter as a result of a flawed cost-benefit analysis by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That analysis is now being reworked and a final cost-benefit decision is expected soon.

Even if the analysis is positive, the project will then wait in a queue of major water projects, each hoping to be funded in the Corps' annual budget. The order of projects in the queue is based partially on merit, and partially on politics. For this reason, the president's focus on the project is critical. The project could languish in the queue for years, or it could be moved toward the front by the White House.

Many thanks to Reps. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and Paul Mitchell, R-Mich., for their leadership spearheading the congressional letter.

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