Construction Continues at the Soo

By GLSR Staff  |  Latest News, Locks, Marine Highway

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Lock at the Soo project remains on schedule as major construction continues with phases 2 and 3 this season. 

Joint ventures Kokosing-Alberici (Upstream Approach Walls, Phase 2), and Kokosing, Alberici, Traylor (New Lock, Phase 3) have a busy construction season ahead of them. 

“Since resuming major construction this season, the Phase 2 contractor has placed 13 concrete caps, bringing the total caps placed to 68 and preparation for placement of new steel sheets, steel posts and concrete panel wall are in progress,” said Mollie Mahoney, New Lock senior project manager. “The Phase 3 contractor plans to focus on demolition of aging structures, extensive electrical work, bridge construction and coffer dam construction to allow for dewatering.” 

Phase 3 excavation work will include blasting activities, which will be communicated with stakeholders as blasting activities get closer. 

“Beginning May 30, the Hydro Plant tailrace closed to recreational boaters. The normal schedule for the tailrace is: closed Mondays at 6 a.m. through Saturdays at 6 p.m. and open Saturdays at 6 p.m. through Mondays at 6 a.m.,” said Mick Awbrey, New Lock chief. “The closure is necessary to ensure the safety of all boaters and marine construction workers as large barges, cranes and construction boats will be working in the area.” 

Phase 1 included deepening the upstream approach to the New Lock from 24 feet to 30 feet deep so modern vessels can approach the New Lock at the Soo and concluded in August 2022, under budget and ahead of schedule. 

Phase 2 includes rehabilitating the upstream approach walls to stabilize the existing approach walls allowing modern vessels to tie up and wait their turn to pass through the New Lock at the Soo. The estimated completion date for Phase 2 is summer 2024. 

Phase 3 includes demolishing the existing Sabin Lock, excavation of bedrock, constructing the New Lock at the Soo chamber walls and floor, fabrication and installation of miter gates, installation of mechanical and electrical systems, installation of the innovative hands-free mooring system, rehabilitating downstream approach walls and constructing a new pump well. The estimated completion date for Phase 3 is summer 2030. 

The Soo Locks are situated on the St. Marys River at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and allow vessels to transit the 21-foot elevation change at the St. Marys Falls Canal. Nearly all (88%) domestically produced advanced high-strength steel used to manufacture products like automobiles and appliances is made with taconite (iron ore) restricted by vessel size to the Poe Lock. The New Lock at the Soo project is constructing a second Poe-sized lock (110 feet by 1,200 feet) in the existing footprint of the decommissioned Sabin Lock. 

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