In October 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) conducted an analysis of the economic impacts of a 6-month closure of the 49-year old Poe Lock at the Soo Locks complex. DHS concluded that the Poe Lock is the Achilles’ heel of the North American industrial economy and that such an outage would send the United States’ economy into a recession, closing factories and mines, halting auto and appliance production in the U.S. for most of a year and result in the loss of some 11 million jobs across the nation. Later that year, in December 2015, USACE agreed to reevaluate the BCR of upgrading the Soo Locks after acknowledging inaccuracies in its original BCR determination that left the project unable to compete for federal funding.
On Feb. 23, Congressman Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Co-Chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Co-Chair of Senate Great Lakes Task Force, led a bicameral, bipartisan letter to the United States Army Corps of Engineers stressing the importance of completing the study at the Soo Locks in an accurate and timely manner. U.S. Senator Gary Peters and Representatives Jack Bergman, Sander Levin, Fred Upton, Tim Walberg, Dan Kildee, Debbie Dingell, Brenda Lawrence, David Trott, and Paul Mitchell also signed the letter as members of the Senate and House Great Lakes Task Forces.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is currently undertaking an economic reevaluation of a project to build a new navigation lock at the Sault Ste. Marie Locks complex in Michigan,” the lawmakers wrote. “This revaluation is necessary due to erroneous assumptions later acknowledged by USACE in its original economic analysis. We write to ensure that USACE engages stakeholders and considers appropriate transportation alternatives to ensure an accurate benefit-cost ratio (BCR) analysis for the project, which is critically important to our states and the entire country.
“We therefore encourage USACE to ensure that the BCR reevaluation of the Soo Locks project is conducted in a manner that is consistent with other navigation lock and dam project evaluations regarding alternate transportation modes, and that every step is taken to expedite the completion of this critically important analysis,” the lawmakers went on to say.
The full text of the letter is available online here.