The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has signed a contract to begin work on a new Soo lock. The new lock will be designed to handle the largest lake freighters going between Lakes Huron and Superior. Civil engineer John Niemiec says many smaller freighters have been retired from service and today the forty largest boats on the lakes must pass through the Poe Lock which is forty years old.
"If something we're to happen to that lock there'd be no way to ship through the Sault," he says.
Niemiec says 70 percent of the freight moving in and out of Lake Superior goes through the Poe Lock. That's mostly iron ore and coal. Congress has approved 17 million dollars for the first phase of construction. Altogether the federal government will have to come up with half a billion dollars over ten years. Work is expected to begin in July.