LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, issued the following statement on Friday after the Army Corps of Engineers released the long-awaited Soo Locks upgrade feasibility study.
“It is fantastic to see continued dedication to making this essential upgrade to our state and nation.
“This study has been long-awaited by many, including myself. Since first taking office, I have advocated the importance of the locks and how crucial an upgrade is. I have hosted two tours of the locks and joined my fellow legislators in hosting a joint committee meeting between the Senate committees on Commerce, Transportation, and Economic Development and International Investment at Lake Superior State University to discuss the importance of upgrades to the aging locks.
“My colleagues and I also approved a resolution urging Congress to appropriate the necessary funds to complete the upgrades. Other Midwestern states followed our lead and passed similar resolutions as well.
“Only one of the four locks can accommodate the size of all ships currently in operation. The MacArthur Lock is only 800 feet long, leaving the Poe Lock to handle the larger ships, some of which are longer than 1,000 feet.
“Expansion of the Sabin and Davis locks would provide a secondary option should the Poe Lock go down for maintenance or any other unscheduled closure.
“If the Poe Lock were to go down, there would be no other way for these massive ships to cross. It’s been estimated that a shutdown would harshly affect Michigan’s economy — putting more than 22 percent of the state’s workers out of work. This places an enormous economic burden on one single lock. If a failure occurred, it would be an economic disaster for numerous industries throughout the U.S.
“I understand such a large undertaking takes time, but an item of such importance should be completed as quickly and efficiently as possible. I look forward to future announcements as the project continues forward.
“I would like to thank everyone involved for continuing to push for these upgrades. I’d like to especially thank my colleagues who took the time to travel to the Upper Peninsula, listened to the facts and learned firsthand just how important these locks are to both the state and the nation’s economy. I’d also like to thank Congressman Jack Bergman for his continued support on the federal level. His advocacy has no doubt furthered the advancement of the cause.”