SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (WJMN) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District (USACE) announced Tuesday that the ‘New Lock at the Soo Project’ has been reauthorized in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) 2022. In total, the reauthorized amount for the project is $3.219 billion.
The authorization sets how much money agencies and programs can receive, and how they should spend the money. USACE says the authorization makes it possible for the project to maintain efficient funding eligibility.
The reauthorization comes after initial project costs have increased greatly since the project was first approved in 2018. We reported the following on the project’s increased cost in July:
Since the project was authorized in America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, USACE says Project First Cost changed from $922 million to $2.932 billion, and the Project Fully Funded Cost changed from $1.031 billion to $3.189 billion. The Project First Cost is used to get the project authorized and is calculated in today’s dollar value. The Project Fully Funded Cost allows for escalation through the construction and anticipates what the project will cost.
“With continued funding, the remaining construction work, valued at $794.5 million could be awarded over the next three years allowing the project to stay on schedule and be completed in 2030.” Deputy District Engineer Kevin McDaniels said.
USACE says the primary reasons for project cost increases are labor shortages, supply chain disruptions and material cost increases.
USACE sought the increased authorized project cost in WRDA 2022 by transmitting the approved Post Authorization Change Report to the House and Senate Authorizations Committees in June. The project received bipartisan support while going through both the House and Senate.
Currently, USACE says over 88 percent of cargo shipped through the Soo Locks is restricted by vessel size to the Poe Lock. The new lock project will construct a second Poe-sized lock (110′ by 1,200′) on the existing decommissioned Davis and Sabin locks site.
A 2015 Department of Homeland Security study estimates a six-month Poe Lock closure would temporarily reduce the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by $1.1 trillion, resulting in the loss of 11 million jobs.
In July, we reported that Ohio-based Kokosing Alberici Traylor, LLC was contracted to begin Phase 3 of the new lock’s construction this past summer. Phase 2, a project to rehabilitate the upstream approach walls, began in spring 2021 and is expected to finish in summer 2024.
You can learn more about the project here.