SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (WJMN) – The Army Corps of Engineers will receive $479 million in funding as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to modernize the Soo Locks. The amount is enough to fully fund the Corp’s budget to finish building a new lock.

The Soo Locks are a gateway for freighters on the Great Lakes, Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow say the new lock will mean there is a modern lock to handle larger vessels and will prevent failure of the locks.

“After a hard-fought effort, we finally have full funding of the Corp’s budget to finish building the new lock at the Soo Locks. In Michigan, we know how vital the Locks are to our economy and our national defense. We also know that we are on borrowed time until something happens that shuts them down. Thanks to our bipartisan efforts in Congress, and with the President’s leadership, we are able to finish this project as soon as possible,” said Senator Stabenow.

Senator Peters, who is the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said a study by the Department of Homeland Security showed that a potential shutdown of the Soo Locks could have a devastating impact on the U.S. economy. Detecting that possible weakness in supply chains was helpful in garnering support for the funding.

“I’ve been working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers. I also serve both on the Senate Commerce Committee and on the Armed Services Committee, and so I’ve been working with the Army Corps to highlight this issue and to make sure that it got to the top of their priorities,” Peters said. “But after reports came out as to the fact that if anything happens to these locks, it would not just impact Michigan or the Midwest, it would have a significant impact for the whole country, allowed us to win support from senators all across the country to realize that this is an investment in truly critical infrastructure.”

With this funding secured, the total amount allocated to the modernization of the locks and the completion of the new lock rises to $1.3 billion. Having that amount finalized will allow the project to move forward in a faster nature, and potentially shave up to two years off of the time needed to reach completion.

“Now that the funding is there and it’s a part of the infrastructure package we passed earlier, there’s no longer any uncertainty as to whether the money is there, and because we eliminate uncertainty that means construction schedules can move a lot quicker than they would in a normal process, so certainly we’re hoping the Army Corps will be able to accelerate this project. And what that means is creating even more great-paying jobs in the Upper Peninsula and in the Sault Ste. Marie area in particular.”

Local 3 News has reached out to the Army Corps of Engineers to speak on the impact the approved funding will have on them in the future.