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Transportation officials petition Congress to fund new lock

May 30, 2018 07:14AM ● Published by Editor

Photo:  Soolocks.com

From WLUC-TV - May 30, 2018

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (WLUC) - The Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO) has officially petitioned the U.S. Congress to fund the construction of a new lock at Sault Ste. Marie.

MAASTO, a group consisting of officials from 10 member state transportation departments, including the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), unanimously adopted the resolution at its Board of Directors meeting May 24 in Franklin, Tenn. 

In its resolution, the MAASTO board noted the locks "provide a vital link between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes and the rest of the world" with more than 3,000 freighter passages each year, moving in excess of 60 million tons of iron ore, stone, coal, grain, cement, and other cargoes. "The locks are of the utmost importance to the region's economy and play a critical role in our national defense," the resolution stated.

MAASTO's resolution "urges the U.S. Congress to provide the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers the necessary and appropriate funding to construct a new large lock at Sault Ste. Marie."

Congress authorized construction of a new lock in 1986 and further authorized full federal funding in 2007, but has not yet appropriated the estimated $600 million to fund construction of the lock.

"Congress authorized a new lock more than three decades ago, but there is yet to be an appropriation for its construction," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "This is an economic imperative for Michigan, our Great Lakes neighboring states and Canada. We hope this united message will get some attention in Washington, D.C."

MAASTO works to foster the development, operation, and maintenance of an integrated and balanced transportation system that serves the needs of its 10 member states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

In another recent recognition of the Soo Locks' crucial role, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Armed Service's report on the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 (HR5515), urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies to "expedite necessary reviews, analysis, and approvals in order to speed the required upgrades at the Soo Locks." The Soo Lock language was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Mich.

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