SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, Soo Area Office will open the Poe Lock, 12:01 a.m., March 25, marking the 2022 Great Lakes shipping season start.
The operating season is fixed by federal regulation and driven in part by the feasibility of vessels operating in typical Great Lakes ice conditions.
The Poe Lock officially closed January 16 to undergo critical repairs and maintenance during the 10 week-long winter shutdown. Maintenance crews performed a variety of critical tasks on the Poe Lock, including hydraulic steel structure inspections, miter gate bottom girder structural repair and seal replacement, miter gate pintle concrete repairs, valve machinery repairs, and dewatering system maintenance.
“Crews also performed a wide range of other maintenance tasks including fender timber replacements on the piers, electrical and mechanical systems inspections and preventative maintenance on both Poe and MacArthur Locks and floating plant maintenance,” Maintenance Branch Chief LeighAnn Ryckeghem said.
Contractors also rehabilitated the Poe Lock upstream primary gate, including blasting and coating.
“We worked hard to accelerate work up-front during our annual closure, with crews working against a very tight schedule to make repairs in a very short time,” Area Engineer Kevin Sprague said. “Due to the hard work of our maintenance crews during heavy snowfall and cold temperatures, we were able to accomplish all required work on schedule.”
Corps of Engineers crews should complete Poe Lock rewatering March 21. This supports U.S. Coast Guard ice breakers preparing the upper river shipping channel and breaking out Lake Superior Ports for the navigation season opening.
The MacArthur Lock, located south of the Poe, will remain closed until late-April.
“We welcome visitors into the park for the 2022 Soo Locks season opening. The park and viewing platform will open March 24 at 11:30 p.m. and close March 25 at 1:30 a.m. The Visitor Center will open March 25 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for an open house,” Chief Park Ranger Michelle Briggs said.
The park is open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to open the Soo Locks Visitor Center May 8 for the summer season.
For those not able to come for the opening of the Soo Locks, there will be a Facebook Live stream of the first ship on our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/USACEDetroitDistrict.
For more details, contact Detroit District Public Affairs Specialist Carrie Fox, 906-259-2841.