Soo Locks to open March 25 for 2023 shipping season

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, Soo Project Office will open the Poe Lock, 12:01 a.m., March 25, marking the 2023 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. 

John G Munson
Photo credit: David Kaye; courtesy Mitchell’s Great Lakes Shipping Facebook Page

The Poe Lock 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 Gate 1 anchorage component repairs such as replacing concrete, Gate 1 lifting lugs and turning feet, underfloor drain system inspection, Gate 1 structural inspection for future replacement, Gate 3 inspection for structural repairs, gate jacking pedestal inspections, valve repairs, Gate 3 seal repairs and culvert intake grate repairs. The (miter) gates are the large gates at each end of the lock chamber. The gates open and close allowing ships to enter and leave the lock and prevent water from entering or exiting the lock while boats are lifted or lowered.

“Crews also performed a wide range of other maintenance tasks including fender timber replacements, electrical and mechanical systems inspections, and preventative maintenance on both the Poe and MacArthur Locks and floating plant maintenance,” Maintenance Branch Chief Nick Pettit said.

Contractors also performed work on the Poe Lock ship arrestor project. OCCI of Missouri, was awarded the contract in July 2021, for $17.5M after awarded options. This winter, they completed the new downstream arrestor equipment buildings, installed the new arrestor machinery and replaced the arrestor boom.

“This winter a portion of maintenance projects on Gate 1 required the Poe Lock to remain full while others required the lock to be dewatered,” Maintenance Branch Chief Nick Pettit said. 

“Sequencing Poe Lock maintenance/repairs allowed our team to maximize the non-navigation season.”

The MacArthur Lock, located south of the Poe, is scheduled to open April 24. 

“We welcome visitors into the park for the 2023 Soo Locks season opening. The park and viewing platform will open March 24 at 11 p.m. and close March 25 at 1 a.m. The Visitor Center will host an open house March 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” 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 1 for the summer season.

For those not able to come to the Soo Locks opening, there will be a Facebook Live stream of the first ship on our Facebook page starting at 11:55 p.m., March 24 at:

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