Construction beginning on lock chamber in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

Ontario Construction News staff writer

Construction of the third and largest phase of the newest Soo Lock will start this summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced, following the awarding of a $1.068 billion contract.

Kokosing Alberici Traylor LLC, a joint venture headquartered in Westerville, Ohio will construct the new 1,200-ft. lock chamber and rehabilitate downstream approach walls.

Officials expect the newest phase of construction to last seven years.

“The Corps of Engineers looks forward to beginning construction on the new lock chamber later this summer, and we continue to work hard to maintain the pace and continue to make progress toward New Lock at the Soo total project completion in summer 2030,” Project Manager Mollie Mahoney said in a news release.

The project’s first phase to deepen the upstream channel began in spring of 2020 and is substantially complete. Phase two, rehabilitation of the upstream approach walls began in spring 2021 and is scheduled to be complete in summer 2024.

A major cost increase caused by inflation, a labour shortage and design modifications resulted in a five-month contract award delay while the Corps of Engineers developed necessary reports to deliver a new cost estimate for reauthorization to Congress.

Project fully funded cost changed from $1.031 billion to $3.189 billion. The fully funded cost allows for escalation through the construction mid-point and anticipates what the project will cost.

“We recognize funding a larger amount for the new lock at the Soo is a challenge that could potentially result in schedule impacts,” said Deputy District Engineer Kevin McDaniels.

With continued funding, remaining work, valued at $803.95 million, may be awarded over the next three years.

To make way for the new lock, two decommissioned locks from the First World War-era will be demolished. The new lock will be able to accommodate the largest ships on the Great Lakes and will be a twin to the nearby Poe Lock at the site.


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