SAULT STE. MARIE — Soo Lock construction is set to shift into the next phase, Phase 2, of construction in September.
This construction, according to a press release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, is to facilitate the construction of a new Poe-sized lock in place of the existing Davis and Sabin Locks. This work is expected to be complete in November 2021.
The three major phases of the project remain on track with their timetables and are virtually unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic. Construction/dredging of the new Soo Lock began in June in the upstream channel deepening phase. The next big milestone of the construction, according to Penny Carroll of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will be the award of the second phase of work, which is anticipated to happen in September.
During the first phase of the project, Trade West, the contractor, began mobilizing equipment to the job site on May 4. On June 4, they began dredging at the western end of the project. On July 16, they began the deepening project, bringing up bedrock. This work began at the east end of the south side of the north channel. So far, the material brought up is all Jacobsville sandstone.
According to Carroll, this work on the eastern part of the north channel is important to accomplish first so that this area is properly deepened for the second phase of the project, the upstream approach walls, which will begin next spring. In order to have both contractors working on the same site, there has to be layering of the phases. The contractor is currently bringing up about 1,300 tons per day and production is currently on schedule.
“Roughly 300,000 cubic yards of material, mostly bedrock, will be removed from the mile-long approach channel which will be placed on the Northwest Pier, located just north of the Upstream Approach Channel and will actually provide a windbreak for vessels,” said Carroll. “The Northwest Pier is property owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”
The second phase involves rehabilitation of the upstream approach walls, which will stabilize the existing approach walls to allow for modern vessels to tie up and wait their turn to pass through the new lock.
This contract has been solicited and is currently meeting source selection qualification boards. The Army Corps aims to have this contract awarded in September, with construction to begin in the spring.
The third phase, construction of the new lock chamber, will include rehabilitating downstream approach walls and is nearing its 70 percent design milestone. The Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, is conducting a series of industry engagement events from Oct. 1 through Oct. 8 to seek feedback from potential contractors. The intent is for the Army Corps to share the 70 percent plans with contractors on Aug. 28, present an overview of chamber design webinar on Oct. 1, conduct an industry site visit on Oct. 6, and meet individually with contractors to gain feedback from a contractor perspective towards clarity and constructability of the current plan on Oct. 6 through Oct. 8.
As stated in a press release by the Army Corps, Detroit District, 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. Mary’s Falls Canal. Over 85 percent of commodity tonnage through the Soo Locks is restricted by vessel size to the Poe Lock. This new lock project will construct a second Poe-sized lock, sized 110′ by 1,200′, on the site of the existing decommissioned Davis and Sabin locks.
According to a 2015 Department of Homeland Security study on the impact of an unexpected Soo Locks closure, the Locks are nationally critical infrastructure and the reliability of this critical node in the Great Lakes Navigation System is essential to America’s manufacturing and national security.
Source: Soo Evening News