Soo Locks could receive $82.5 million from President Biden’s 2023 budget plan

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The Soo Locks are set to receive one of their biggest funding increases yet with the announcement of President Joe Biden’s 2023 fiscal budget.

On Monday, 9&10 News reported that $6.6 billion in funding had been earmarked by the president for the US Army Corps of Engineers civil works program.

Port of Alpena, Port of Charlevoix, Port of Grand Traverse Bay, Port of Leland, Inland Route and Port of Ludington would be included along with four other areas in northern Michigan.

St. Mary’s River, Soo Locks is expected to receive just over $82.5 million.

Soo Engineer, Kevin Sprague, says that in the past, Soo Locks has received around $25-30 million from the president’s budget. Last year they got a significant $58 million increase for operations and maintenance of the facility. The latest announcement, added to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funding, will provide a total of $130 million in fiscal year 2023.

“It’s really an exciting time when [we] have a really big advantage both in the president’s budget and with the IIJA and that’s really, really great for our office,” Sprague says.

The civil works budget is for the district’s operations and maintenance program, which includes maintenance of federal waterways and navigational structures.

Several minor projects will use the funding opportunity, according to Sprague. The main objective of small combined projects is to improve the reliability of locks.

“Installation is extremely critical, especially for integrated steel mills, which supply advanced high-strength steel to the automotive industry,” says Sprague. “A quarter of the Poe Lock cut could cause a really big shutdown of the auto industry just because of just-in-time delivery.”

Sprague adds that over the past few years work has been done to “reset the clock” on the various mechanics of the facility. This will help the reliability of the system as work begins on the new locks which will be funded separately with the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

This is the first time they have submitted a funding request with a list of needed improvements that has been fully covered.

“I think our district and everyone else has done a really good job of explaining the criticality and the research that has led to understanding how critical the facility is to the steel industry and just the general steel manufacturing industry. Midwest,” Sprague says.

A breakdown of the cast of the Michigan project:
Port of Alpena $29,000
Lake St. Clair Canals $248,000
Port of Charlevoix $25,000
Detroit River $8,041,000
Port of Grand Haven $3,425,000
Port of Grand Traverse Bay $23,000
Holland Harbor $1,317,000
Interior route $127,000
Keweenaw Waterway $1,458,000
Port of Leland $22,000
Port of Lexington $505,000
Port of Little Lake $204,000
Port of Ludington $1,164,300
Marquette Harbor $805,200
Port of Monroe $1,286,300
Muskegon Harbor $980,500
New Port of Buffalo $26,000
Port Sanilac Harbor $506,000
Saginaw River $4,058,000
Sebewaing River $68,000
St. Clair River $833,000
Port St. Joseph $3,033,000
St. Marys River, Soo Locks $82,566,000

Projects not funded by President Biden’s budget have the potential to be funded through the fiscal year 2022 work plan and infrastructure investments and jobs law. These projects and funding amounts will be released in early summer 2022.

For more information on the President’s budget for fiscal year 2023, Click here.

The press kit for the Civil Engineering budget for the 2023 financial year is available here. Simply click under the Program Budget: Press Books heading.

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