Senators applaud Ohio Soo Locks resolution; urge neighboring states to act

LANSING, Mich. – State Senators Wayne Schmidt, Ken Horn and Tom Casperson today applauded the Ohio House of Representatives’ adoption of a resolution urging the U.S. government to upgrade the Soo Locks.

“I appreciate the action taken by Ohio’s legislature calling on the federal government to upgrade the Soo Locks,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City, who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee. “Ohioans, like Michiganders, understand the locks’ economic importance to our respective states, the Great Lakes region and the United States. Tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of resources depend on safe and continued travel through the Soo Locks. Now, more than ever, it’s time to modernize this vital trade passage.”

Ohio’s House Resolution 263, much like one adopted by the Michigan Senate last November, calls on the president, the Congress and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to upgrade the locks, and urges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with preparing an economic reevaluation report.

Only one of the four Soo Locks is currently large enough to accommodate the modern vessels that commonly traverse the Great Lakes. Seventy percent of cargo is carried on the large ships that can only pass through the Poe Lock.

“With so much riding, literally, on the single Poe Lock, we’re presented with a potential economic and security disaster should that lock go down for any amount of time,” said Horn, R-Frankenmuth, who chairs the Senate Economic Development and International Investment Committee. “For those reasons and to help our economy grow, we must upgrade the locks. Michigan understands that. Ohio understands that. It’s time for the federal government to stand up and act as well.”

Approximately 10,000 vessels travel through the locks annually, carrying 80 million tons of iron ore, coal, grain, and other cargo. Nearly 80 percent of domestic iron ore, the primary material used to manufacture steel, travels from mines in the Upper Peninsula and neighboring states through the Soo Locks.

The senators called on their colleagues in the legislatures of neighboring Great Lakes states Wisconsin and Minnesota to also adopt a Soo Locks resolution.

“A new lock will provide the secure, redundant, and reliable Soo Lock system vital to Michigan, to other Great Lakes states like Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and to the nation as a whole,” said Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Casperson, R-Escanaba. “Adopting these resolutions in a joint effort is critical to moving the process forward.”