Friday, May 1, 2020

Soo Locks Receives $123 Million in Federal Investment to Build Second Poe Lock

Export oriented economies require efficient shipping lanes, ports and railroads that move resources within the U.S and then export finished products to the rest of the world. Our infrastructure is declining because we outsourced much of our resource extraction to other nations. While this has short term benefits, there is a growing need to maintain our own production capacity within North American. Managing and owning our supply chain helps us keep production running during times of adversity as well as create new innovation and efficiencies.

That doesn't mean we don't buy any resources from overseas, or that some components of our products cant be manufactured overseas, it means that our nation must balance these appropriately so that the center of our production and supply lines lay within the U.S.. Production value, and in turn economic value, is highest when products are invented and built within the U.S in a way that enhances our economy and the value of American labor (Republican and Democrat should see eye-to-eye on this issue).

The problem with a declining infrastructure system is that if we don't invest some money our capacity could be lost; maybe forever! We can see this in our deteriorating and often underused railroads, ports, and shipping routes. The government is seeking to enhance our local production abilities encouraging innovative manufacturing processes. Thus, the Soo Locks (Poe Lock in particular) are vitally important for steel and manufacturing that feeds other manufacturing industries.

According to study commissioned by Homeland Security entitled The Perils of Efficiency: An Analysis of Unexpected Closure of the Poe Lock and its Impact ,"Approximately 80 percent of iron ore mining operations, and nearly 100 percent of the North American appliances, automobile, construction equipment, farm equipment, mining equipment, and railcar production would shut down" (Homeland Security, 2015, pp.iii).

The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership , which supports public understanding of the benefits of commercial shipping in the Great Lakes, further elaborates that around 80 million tons of iron ore as well as coal, grain and limestone move through the Sault St. Marie every year. Approximately 90% of cargo makes its way through the Poe Locks thereby creating productive redundancy is important.

Federal government is willing to invest $123 million in building a second lock because a 6 month closure could create a devastating 1.1 trillion in damage to national GDP (Homeland Security, 2015).

Congressman Rep. Bergman highlights within his press release that, "After decades of political inaction and empty promises, the construction of a new lock in Sault Ste. Marie is now a reality. I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress and with President Trump's Administration to ensure we keep up this historic momentum.(1)"

Contract bids are open for companies that can do this type of work. Much more information on the project can be found on

You may also want to read more about Homeland Security's report by principle investigator Dr. Craig S. Gordon. Figure 3 Ports to Steel is a very nice map that indicates how these locks are so important (not sure if I'm allowed to copy so I don't! 😖). Small cities like Marquette and Escanaba have vitally important ports that are underutilized. Maybe that will change with new American growth initiatives.  The Perils of Efficiency: An Analysis of Unexpected Closure of the Poe Lock and its Impact

Contract Description

PURPOSE: The Detroit District of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) solicitation for a firm-fixed-price construction contract to accomplish the following work at the Soo Lock Complex, Sault Ste. Marie, MI.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The scope of work will be attached to the solicitation documentation. The intended start date for this requirement is within 30 days after contract award.

NAICS CODE AND SBA SIZE STANDARD: 237990 - Other Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction, $39.5 Million.

TYPE OF SET-ASIDE: None (Full and Open/Unrestricted)

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Specific information pertaining to this project as well as the virtual site visit and submittal of electronic proposals will be available in the attached solicitation. It is the responsibility of all potential offerors to monitor for any amendments, updates, responses to industry questions/comments, etc... The Government will not be maintaining a mailing list.

POINT-OF-CONTACT: The Primary Contract Specialist for this solicitation is Steve Hutchens, email: Any communication regarding this notice should be made in writing sent via email or facsimile and must identify the solicitation number, company name, address, email address, phone number including area code, facsimile number, and point of contact.

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